54 migrants die in truck

Thai police said 54 migrant workers from Burma, most of them women, suffocated to death in the back of a seafood truck in southern Thailand while being smuggled to the popular resort island of Phuket.

Police Colonel Kraithong Chanthongbai said the victims, along with 47 survivors, were crammed tightly into the truck's sweltering container and were about two hours into their trip late yesterday in Ranong province near Burma when some of them started dying.

Mr Kraithong said survivors pounded on the walls to get the attention of the driver, who stopped the truck and opened the back but then fled.

He said today that 21 of the survivors were taken to hospital and the rest held for questioning.

Of the dead, 37 were women and 17 were men.