One dead, 2 hurt as tree falls, hits poles

A woman was killed and two people were injured when power poles toppled by a fallen tree crashed onto three motorcycles on Bangkok’s Chidlom Road yesterday morning.

The power poles and cables fell on the motorcycles after a big tree in the building compound was uprooted and later fell on the poles.

Boonsee Waenkaew, a motorcycle taxi driver who narrowly escaped injury, said he parked his motorcycle about 9.30am and went to talk to a nearby vendor. While he was speaking with the vendor, the tree suddenly fell on his bike, which was crushed.

The woman killed in the incident was stopped at a traffic light when power poles toppled by the fallen tree fell on her. The woman was later identified as Natchaphat Somjet, 25. Two other victims, yet to be identified, were rushed to the Police General Hospital.

The owner of the building will be called for questioning. The tree was reportedly planted 20 years ago, the same time the office building was built. The incident damaged three motorcycles and three cars.

Experienced arborist Decha Boonkham said the uprooted tree was caused by inadequate care, resulting in the tree losing its strength and balance.

Narrower pavements, resulting from space reallocation for wider roads, was also a factor that affected the tree roots, he said.

All trees, especially large ones, should be regularly trimmed to maintain their balance, said Mr Decha, who is the former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of architecture. Roots and branches of a tree should be regularly trimmed and taken care of to slow down its growth.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commander Gen Sanit Mahathavorn said he would coordinate with City Hall to survey areas where big trees and old buildings were located before steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) governor Chaiyong Puapongsakorn said three poles toppled by the fallen tree belong to the MEA, three others are maintained by the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT) and another was not yet identified.

He said the MEA will give 10,000 baht to help the dead victim’s family.

The power supply in the area had not been disrupted by the incident as no electricity wires had been damaged, Mr Chaiyong said, saying most power wires maintained by the MEA run underground.

A team of MEA technicians found many telecommunication cables have been damaged by the incident, he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his condolences to the victim’s family and ordered help be provided to her family.

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