Rules ignored as revellers party hard
Chiang Mai, Khao San lead the way; Khon Kaen tops list of road fatalities
Songkran fun continued into its fourth day across the country, especially at locations where water frolics went on alongside dancing and - however unlawfully - drinking.
Free concerts in Chiang Mai have been held for three consecutive days without official permission. Authorities were helpless to stop the sale of alcohol at privately owned areas where large groups of teenagers gathered.
Ten of thousands crowded the Huay Kaew Road - which was closed to allow the concerts. Heavy traffic congestion resulted. Several scuffles broke out but there were no reports of serious injury.
Apart from hundreds of police officers and city officials, about 1,000 soldiers from local Army units mobilised along the road to provide safety and crowd control and direct traffic.
As ever, Bangkok's Khao San Road was packed end to end with revellers armed with water guns and other implements. Police prohibited the throwing of powder and other material.
That means a lighter workload for the 200 city workers who must start cleaning the road and its nearby streets today, the official end of the festival.
Police reported no complaints of women being molested during the wholesale fun. They said most followed advice not to dress in revealing attire.
Many new sites for Songkran fun emerged this year with names mimicking legendary Khao San [rice seed] Road.
Two are Khao Neo [sticky rice] Road in Khon Kaen and Khao Pun [round rice noodles] Road in Nakhon Phanom.
On a sadder note, Songkran has seen 238 people killed and another 3,180 injured in 2,823 road accidents between this past Wednesday and Saturday. The road toll remains slightly lower than that of 2006.
Sixty-seven people died and another 886 were injured in 789 accidents yesterday alone.
A Westerner drowned in the historic Chiang Mai moat after a heavy bout of drinking. Many locals had been swimming in the moat.
Drinking drivers were the main cause of road accidents. About 43 per cent of accidents are caused by alcohol, police reported. Speeding accounted for 17.5 per cent and reckless driving 10 per cent.
Motorcycles are involved in more than eight of every 10 accidents. Pickups are involved in 10 per cent of all accidents.
Khon Kaen has recorded the most fatalities at 14 with Phitsanulok and Chiang Mai at 11 and 10 respectively, according to the Public Health Ministry.
Traffic on major Bangkok-bound routes is starting to become congested as commuters head back to the capital.
The traditional festival period ended yesterday, although the extended holiday ends on Tuesday.