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'It was an accident'

Driver ploughs into Erawan Shrine injuring six, including two S'poreans

Six people - including two Singaporeans - were reportedly injured on Friday night when a driver suffered a seizure and ploughed her car into a Hindu shrine in Bangkok, police said.

The Bangkok Post identified the injured as Mr Jonto Kurniawan, 73, and Mrs Rosita Kurniawan, 56, from Indonesia, Mrs Ong Chey Tao, 70, and Miss Ng Icon Leng, 35, from Singapore, and Miss Leena Bong, 81, from China.

The car driver, Mrs Kanuengnit Techorai, 55, was also injured.

The light blue sedan veered off a major road in downtown Bangkok and slammed through a gate, onto the grounds of Erawan Shrine, the site of a bombing in August 2015 that left 20 dead and scores injured, reported AFP.

"It was an accident," Lumpini police commander Pornchai Chalodet told AFP of the car crash.

"A lady had epilepsy while driving and couldn't control the car which went into Erawan Shrine."

The shrine, a popular stop for East Asian tourists, was reportedly thronged with worshippers at the time of the accident.

SCARY

"We were praying, and then suddenly we heard a big noise and we saw a car coming inside," Ms Kristy, a 21-year-old tourist from Vietnam, told AFP. "We ran like crazy. It was very scary. I first thought it was a car bomb, but everyone around us was calm."

Bangkok Post quoted acting Bangkok police chief Lieutenant-General Sanit Mahataworn as saying yesterday: "The driver had an acute stroke while at the wheel and lost control of herself.

"Her daughter, who was with her, told us that her mother suddenly had a seizure and lost control of the car before it hit the shrine.

"The closed-circuit camera footage showed that the car was in reverse gear after the hit. That's because the daughter was pulling the gear lever. (Otherwise) the impact could have been much greater."

Lt-Gen Sanit said the police might have to press charges.

"If the doctor officially confirms the driver could not possibly have controlled the car in such a condition, she will not be held criminally responsible, but civil charges might be filed by the victims," he said.

He added that the driver's family members insisted she had never had a history of stroke.

Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul visited the victims and Lt-Gen Sanit said that "there's nothing to worry about".

"(The) Tourism Ministry has a fund to take care of visitors. The most serious cases are broken legs and head wounds," he said.

The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said officers from the Singapore embassy in Bangkok have visited the injured Singaporeans in the hospital there, reported The Straits Times. "The embassy will remain in close contact with them and provide them with the necessary consular assistance," a spokesman was quoted as saying.

Two Uighur men from western China are on trial for the 2015 bombing at Erawan Shrine. Both have denied their involvement in the attack.

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