A Thai businesswoman drowned in a freak accident after he car broke down in a tunnel which suddenly filled with rain water.
Cosmetics importer Panumas Saetae, 41, was driving back to her luxury apartment in Bangkok at 1am last Thursday morning during heavy rain.
She drove her black Toyota pick-up truck into a 100m long underpass next to the housing complex, but didn’t notice water at the bottom and plunged into a huge puddle which disabled the engine.
Terrified Panumas was stuck in the tunnel as water poured in during the heavy rainstorm. She called her family for help but her phone cut out shortly after – as the water quickly filled up to the 10ft high roof and covered her vehicle.
Police arrived with divers in the early hours of the morning but Panumas’s body was not recovered until 5:30am. Her mud-covered car was hauled out by a tractor later that day after rescuers spent seven hours at the scene.
Panumas’s devastated family held a funeral for her over the weekend while officials began investigating what caused the accident in the Prawet district of the Thai capital near the country’s main airport.
Officials believe that lights in the tunnel were broken and Panumas failed to see the water before plunging into it.
Tanasit Methpanmuang, director of the local government office in the area, said the tunnel was around 100 metres long, ten metres wide and three metres high.
He added: ”Earlier in the evening there were reports that a BMW had broken down in the tunnel. Then the water was about 60cm high. There were about 400 cubic metres of water inside the tunnel.”
Investigators are now looking at how the tunnel filled up with water. They said that the drainage system which filled the tunnel with water was operated by a housing complex.
They believe that a water pump which was supposed to drain the underpass and prevent flooding had broken under the strain of heavy monsoon downpours.
Government district director Tanasit said that there were some 1,600 cubic metres in the tunnel by the time Panumas drove in.
Tanasit added: ”We need to find out how such a huge volume of water went into the underpass. There should be CCTV and equipment to respond to emergencies. For example, if a vehicle gets submerged, there should be apparatus to pull it out of floodwater.”
A post mortem examination on the dead body of Panumas showed she had died due to drowning.