A VILLAGE headman in Chanthaburi province helped seize a van disguised as an ambulance that was smuggling 14 illegal Cambodians from the border with five of them later found to be infected with coronavirus, Thai Rath newspaper said this evening (July 14).
The bogus emergency vehicle had passed several checkpoints before being caught at Thep Nimit sub-district, Pong Nam Ron district.
Mr. Sitthinon Chiantheerasakul, a village headman in Thep Nimit sub-district, was alerted on Monday evening (July 12) by security guards at a market that there was an ambulance claiming to be taking Covid-infected Cambodians across border, so alerted the police to come in and check.
The police team found that the white van, driven by Mrs. Khwanruedi Sarakhun, 45, was fitted out to look just like an ambulance with a sticker saying so pasted across it and a siren placed above. The driver was wearing a PPE suit just like ordinary hospital workers do.
Within were 14 Cambodians, nine adults and five children, and accompanying the fake ambulance with a grey sedan loaded with luggage driven by Mr. Saranyoo Bunkun, 31, with Mr. Kunanan Tansiri, 19, accompanying him.
While the drivers said they were taking Covid-infected back to their home country, relevant departments did not know anything about it, leading to all of them being detained.
The next day they were tested for coronavirus at a provincial hospital and five adult Cambodians were found to be infected but not the Thai drivers.
The drivers have been charged with helping illegal foreign workers enter the province and evading arrest and violating the emergency decree prohibiting the movement of foreign workers. Another charge is the unauthorized use of a siren.
The bogus ambulance, the driver wearing a PPE suit, and illegal migrant workers after they were caught in Chanthaburi. Photos: Thai Rath