Ranong human-smuggling incident

The Ranong human-smuggling incident was a human smuggling disaster in Ranong, Thailand in April 2008.[1] 54 people suffocated to death in a seafood container while being smuggled from Myanmar, to Phuket, Thailand.[2]

Ranong human-smuggling incident
DateApril 8, 2008 (2008-04-08)
LocationRanong, Thailand
CauseHuman smuggling
First reporterRoyal Thai Police


On the night of 9 April 2008, 121 Burmese workers were transported illegally by fishing boat from Song Island in Myanmar to a landing near Ranong, Thailand. All were illegal migrant workers seeking transport to Phuket, where they planned to seek jobs as day laborers. Each had paid smugglers 6,000 baht (US$190)[3] or 10,000 baht (US$316)[4] for the journey. All 121 people were herded into an airtight seafood refrigeration unit on the back of a truck. It measured 6 metres by 2.2 metres (20 feet by 7 feet), meaning standing room only for the passengers.

Thirty minutes into the journey, conditions in the container became stifling. The workers banged on the sides of the container to alert the driver, but he failed to stop and warned everyone to remain quiet so as to avoid alerting the Thai Police as they passed through checkpoints.[citation needed] He turned on the air conditioning, but it failed after a few minutes.[citation needed] When the driver finally stopped on a quiet road running along the Andaman Sea 90 minutes later many, mostly women, had already collapsed.[citation needed] After seeing the bodies, the driver fled.[citation needed]

The dead were 36 women, an 8-year-old girl, and 17 men.[3][5][6]


Relatives of those killed received 35,000 baht compensation for each relative who died, Suwanna Suwanjutha, director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, announced in July 2008. On 28 December 2012 four Thais found guilty of human smuggling were sentenced to between three and ten years imprisonment for their involvement. The four were convicted of gross negligence resulting in death and of breaking immigration laws.

The truck owner, Damrong "Run" Phussadee, of Rungruengsup Ltd, was sentenced to 10 years for his involvement. Jirawat "Ko-Chun" Sopapanwaraku, who owned Choke Jaroen Pier where the migrants arrived by boat, was jailed for six years. Chalhermchai "Joe" Waritjanpleng was sentenced to nine years in prison. Ms Panchalee "Pueng" Chusung's six-year sentence was halved after she confessed. "Three of them were granted bail of between US$13,000 [about 400,000 baht] and US$6,500 [about 200,000 baht] while they file appeals", the official said, adding that the fourth defendant was held in custody after failing to meet bail terms. The truck driver, Suchon Bunplong, fled the scene, but was later arrested and then confessed to his involvement. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2008, but his confession to trafficking illegal immigrants saw that jail term being halved to six years, Maj Gen Apirak Hongthong, Phuket Police Commander at the time, told the Phuket Gazette in June 2008.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "54 Burmese dead in trafficking horror". Phuket Gazette. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  2. ^ MacKinnon, Ian (11 April 2008). "54 Burmese migrants suffocate in packed lorry". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b Chutima Sidasathian; Alan Morison (10 April 2008). "Horror of Human Trade: 54 Die in Phuket Bound Container". Phuket Wan. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  4. ^ Mydans, Seth (11 April 2008). "Migrants Perish in Truck to Thailand". New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Lured Into Bondage: A growing back channel of global trade tricks millions into forced labor". The Daily Beast. 12 April 2008. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  6. ^ Simonelli, Issac Stone (29 December 2012). "Phuket human traffickers jailed for deaths of 54 illegal Burmese". Phuket Gazette. Retrieved 29 September 2018.