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Minivan passengers pass out from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning

PHOTO: Thai Rath

Five out of six people travelling in a passenger minivan fell ill and lost consciousness due to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Nation Thailand reports that on Sunday, April 14, the minivan was travelling between the north-eastern provinces of Mukdanah and Yasothon when 5 passengers passed out in their seats. By the time the van arrived at its final destination of Yasothon bus terminal, at around 3.45 pm, some passengers were vomiting.

It’s understood a number of motorbike taxis initially offered the passengers their services, but when they declined due to their ill health, the taxi drivers called the emergency services.

Four out of the five passengers were admitted to Yasothon Hospital for treatment. Both the driver and the passenger sitting beside him in the front of the van felt no ill effects.

The minivan driver, named only as 51 year old Somsak, told police he didn’t realise his passengers had lost consciousness and presumed they were sleeping.

The Yasothon Land Transport Office initially blamed the van’s broken air conditioner, saying the passengers had likely passed out from the heat and poor ventilation. However, a forensic medicine doctor at Bangkok’s Srinakharinwirot University has pointed the finger at carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dr Weerasak Charaschaisri says carbon monoxide has no smell and is the result of faulty internal combustion, causing the gas to leak into the van. He believes all the symptoms indicate the passengers were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

It’s understood a number of passengers had complained of breathing difficulties before they passed out. Dr Weerasak says shortness of breath and vomiting are common symptoms of CO poisoning.

The doctor says the minivan should be thoroughly checked and fixed before being put into service again. For now, the Yasothon Land Transport Office has ordered it to be suspended from service until it’s fixed.

According to the Nation Thailand report, 2 other passengers passed out while travelling on the same van the day before.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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