Nine Myanmar migrants die in Thailand car accident

BANGKOK (AFP) - At least nine Myanmar migrants working in Thailand's seafood industry were killed and a further 17 injured when their pick-up truck hit a barrier and overturned, police said on Tuesday.

Police said 26 workers were crammed into the vehicle after their shift when the accident happened late Monday in the coastal province of Samut Sakhon, 45km from Bangkok.

"It should not have happened... the pick-up truck had just left the factory and was not travelling far to its destination," Chaiyuth Thomya of Samut Sakhon's Mueang district police told AFP, putting the death toll at nine.

Thailand's roads are among the world's deadliest, with accidents involving buses and trucks packed with migrant workers particularly common.

Samut Sakhon is home to tens of thousands of migrants, many from neighbouring Myanmar, who work in Thailand's embattled fishing and seafood trade.

The kingdom, the world's third-largest seafood producer, is under intense pressure to raise standards in the industry, with the European Union threatening a ban on its exports if it fails to clamp down on illegal fishing.

Thai authorities have vowed to get tough with offenders, saying any export ban to Europe could cost the kingdom around a US$1 billion (S$13 billion) a year.

Rights groups also accuse Thai authorities of failing to protect migrant labourers in the notoriously unregulated fishing industry, which is blighted by accusations of slave labour, low pay and poor conditions.