A 57-year-old Thai woman had to have her leg amputated after she got caught up in a moving walkway at an international airport in Bangkok on Thursday in a freak accident that has yet to be fully explained by authorities.
Don Mueang International Airport’s director Karant Thanakuljeerapat said the incident took place at around 8:27 a.m. local time (7:27 p.m. ET) in the southern corridor of the domestic passenger terminal.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Karant said the woman, who was traveling to the southern city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, had a “severe” accident at the end of a moving walkway after her left leg became caught in the end of the walkway.
Medics responded quickly and the woman was transferred to the nearest hospital, though the severity of her injuries led to the amputation of her leg up to the kneecap, Karant said.
She has since been transferred to Bumrungrad International Hospital, one of the country’s top medical facilities, the director added.
“I would like to convey our deepest sorrow,” Karant told reporters.
The woman’s son, Krit Kittirattana, released a statement on Facebook in which he described the accident as “heartbreaking”.
He said his mother has had an operation but still faces risks of potential complications and that doctors were keeping a close watch for any signs of infection.
“My mother has continued to express her strength through her face and voice. But deep down we know that her heart is broken since she suddenly lost her leg,” he wrote.
He added that the family has requested surveillance camera footage of the accident.
Karant, the airport director, said Airports Of Thailand (AOT), the state-owned company that operates airports across the country, would take care of all medical expenses and provide compensation.
All of the airport’s moving walkways have had their service suspended while the cause of the incident is investigated and engineers do safety checks, he added.
“The cause of the incident is still under investigation to find the facts. We might need to set up a fact-finding committee with outsiders to join in order to achieve impartiality and transparency,” he said.
He said closed-circuit television footage available was taken from afar, thereby taking his staff more time to investigate.
He refrained from making any preliminary conclusion at this stage.
The director, however, defended the airport’s routine maintenance and checkups.
One of the two international airports in Bangkok, Don Mueang is located in the northern part of the capital. It was previously the city’s main airport until the newer and larger Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in 2006.
Thailand is a hugely popular tourist destination for those seeking warm weather and palm fringed beaches.
The country has also been pushing hard for its health tourism with an abundance of private hospitals.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic tourism accounted for some 12% of the country’s economy with nearly 40 million arrivals in 2019.
Arrival numbers were decimated during the pandemic but have begun recovering in recent months. Thailand beat its tourist target in the first quarter of 2023, logging 6.15 million arrivals between January and March.