Thursday, January 1, 2009

WAR! Oh no, my mistake...its just a holiday

The ghastly scene of about sixty dead bodies laid out in front of Santika nightclub in Bangkok has been front page news and, given that it was a direct result of Thailand's notoriously abysmal safety standards, it certainly deserves to be highlighted.

But if you look closer, one of the other stories is: '56 die on first day of holiday'.

Yes, it is holiday time and that means that accidental deaths and injuries - primarily on the roads but, as the pub fire shows, not exclusively - in the Kingdom during the next seven days will soar into the thousands.

To put this needless bloodshed in perspective, it might be good to look at the death toll from actual war.

The scale of Israel's current war on Gaza (six days long so far) from the BBC:

Palestinian medical sources say 391 people have been killed.

The total of deaths from the insurgency in Southern Thailand since 2004 according to wikipedia:

The death toll surpassed 3,000 in March 2008.

And the total of deaths from two days of holiday traffic in Thailand from the Nation:

The road accident death toll of the two first days of the seven dangerous New Year holidays stood at 143...On Wednesday alone, 87 people were killed and 960 injured on the road

And from a simple Google search of "road accidents statistics thailand' found a site called Global Road Safety Partnership which describes Thailand's road accidents in 2005:

According to official statistics (police), 12,858 people were killed in road crashes in 2005. However the real number might even be higher. According to documentation from the health sector, the real death toll could be 20,000 or more if victims who die after being removed from the crash scene are included.

The primary causes of road crashes are the dangerous mix of motorcyclists and larger vehicles, alcohol impaired driving, and excessive speed. Many road deaths happen during the two national holidays: New Year (6 days) December/January and Songkran (9 days) in April.

So what really might need to be highlighted in the news is not simply the negligence of one nightclub but the nation-wide negligence that allows holiday fatalities to be compared to the fatalities of war.

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