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On the night shift: Bangkok's body collectors
Paid per casualty, private ambulance crews race through the Thai capital on a nightly hunt for the injured and deceased.
Last Modified: 28 May 2012 15:58

Bangkok, Thailand - Every night in the Thai capital, dozens of private ambulance teams roam the streets and alleys of the sprawling mega-city of south-east Asia to collect the injured and the dead.  The city has an average of four violent crimes and three fatal road accidents reported each hour of the night; there is no shortage of work.

Thailand does not have a state-run emergency system, and most hospitals lack rescue vehicles and emergency room resources. For the most part, the ambulance teams are funded by private foundations, based in Bangkok’s Chinatown,  which operate on donations.

The main ambulance squads,  such as the Poh Teck Tung Foundation and Ruam Katanyu Foundation, are in fierce competition. In fact, body-collecting in Bangkok is a brisk and profitable business.

For every corpse the teams deliver to a hospital, they are paid 500baht, or around $16; for the injured, they sometimes receive generous donations from the victim’s relatives.

The body collectors are mostly young men, either volunteers or full-time employees, who consider the hunt for bodies a nightly adventure. They start their shift at around 9pm, waiting in the parking lots of petrol stations and fast-food joints in downtown Bangkok.

They listen intently to police scanners, local traffic reports  and the radio chatter of the city's legions of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. When they hear of pile-ups, altercations - or any of the city’s ever-present accidents - they leap into their vehicles and speed to the scene.

After midnight, when the rowdy Bangkok bars begin to empty, the hunt intensifies.

By the body collectors' reckoning, most of their work is caused by road accidents, murders, suicides and drowning victims fished from Bangkok's many canals.

Their shifts ends at 8am, when the teams return exhausted to their bases. Until the next evening, when the hunt begins anew.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
9:49pm: An emergency team chats at its base before beginning the night shift.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
10:05pm: An emergency van speeds to an accident in central Bangkok.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
10:31pm: In one of the night's many violent crimes, the body of a local politician - allegedly shot by a rival - is delivered to the hospital.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
10:39pm: A medic with a private ambulance team waits for the next call.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
10:44pm: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
11:36pm: The emergency team prepares to leave the scene of a deadly accident.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:33am: A team carries the body of a young man. After he lost his job and his wife left him, he committed suicide, his family said.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:29am: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:37am: The motorcycle driver is secured to a stretcher and equipped with a neck brace en route to medical facilities.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:45am: Bangkok police examine the site of a second motorcycle accident, this one fatal.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:51am: Sisters of the victim of a fatal motorcycle accident cry at the scene, as amblance workers arrive.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
12:53am: A drunken man is treated after hurting himself.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
1:35am: Police investigate the scene of a murder - in which a cook at a Chinese restaurant was allegedly stabbed to death by a plate-washing kitchen hand.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
3:34am: After the team dealt with a taxi driver murdered in a gang killing, and the corpse of a man who died from a heart attack, they treat a young woman for a head wound, sustained in a motorbike collision.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
3:34am: After bandages are applied, the young woman waits for to be taken to hospital.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
3:44am: After removing him from the tangled wreckage of a car accident, the body of a young man is laid out at the scene of the crash.


Benjamin Haselberger/Al Jazeera
5:53am After a long night, the emergency team waits for dawn, and the end of their shift.



images:
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captions:
9:49pm: An emergency team chats at its base before beginning the night shift.;*;10:05pm: An emergency van speeds to an accident in central Bangkok.;*;10:31pm: In one of the night\(***)s many violent crimes, the body of a local politician - allegedly shot by a rival - is delivered to the hospital.;*;10:39pm: A medic with a private ambulance team waits for the next call.;*;10:44pm: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.;*;11:36pm: The emergency team prepares to leave the scene of a deadly accident.;*;12:33am: A team carries the body of a young man. After he lost his job and his wife left him, he committed suicide, his family said. ;*;12:29am: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.;*;12:37am: The motorcycle driver is secured to a stretcher and equipped with a neck brace en route to medical facilities.;*;12:45am: Bangkok police examine the site of a second motorcycle accident, this one fatal.;*;12:51am: Sisters of the victim of a fatal motorcycle accident cry at the scene, as amblance workers arrive.;*;12:53am: A drunken man is treated after hurting himself.;*;1:35am: Police investigate the scene of a murder - in which a cook at a Chinese restaurant was allegedly stabbed to death by a plate-washing kitchen hand.;*;3:34am: After the team dealt with a taxi driver murdered in a gang killing, and the corpse of a man who died from a heart attack, they treat a young woman for a head wound, sustained in a motorbike collision.;*;3:34am: After bandages are applied, the young woman waits for to be taken to hospital.;*;3:44am: After removing him from the tangled wreckage of a car accident, the body of a young man is laid out at the scene of the crash.;*;5:53am After a long night, the emergency team waits for dawn, and the end of their shift. Daylife ID:
1338213259046
Photographer:
Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger;*;Benjamin Haselberger
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
On the night shift: Bangkok's body collectorshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectorsPaid for each casualty or corpse they deliver, private ambulance crews race through Thailand's capital in a nightly hunt for victims of traffic accidents or violent crime.en-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Mon, 28 May 2012 13:54:19 GMTMon, 28 May 2012 15:09:54 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=03aQfLvfdi0bh

9:49pm: An emergency team chats at its base before beginning the night shift.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=03aQfLvfdi0bhBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

9:49pm: An emergency team chats at its base before beginning the night shift.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=07lGgMn9YIeGo10:05pm: An emergency van speeds to an accident in central Bangkok.Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=07lGgMn9YIeGoBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images10:05pm: An emergency van speeds to an accident in central Bangkok. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=04rR7UR4dM8oS

10:31pm: In one of the night's many violent crimes, the body of a local politician - allegedly shot by a rival - is delivered to the hospital.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=04rR7UR4dM8oSBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

10:31pm: In one of the night's many violent crimes, the body of a local politician - allegedly shot by a rival - is delivered to the hospital.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0eOW7wXespduA

10:39pm: A medic with a private ambulance team waits for the next call.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0eOW7wXespduABenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

10:39pm: A medic with a private ambulance team waits for the next call.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=07fwdUP2iI3Pp10:44pm: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=07fwdUP2iI3PpBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images10:44pm: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0fqig9G4SS4fr

11:36pm: The emergency team prepares to leave the scene of a deadly accident.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0fqig9G4SS4frBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

11:36pm: The emergency team prepares to leave the scene of a deadly accident.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=01OW0ubfyedK7

12:33am: A team carries the body of a young man. After he lost his job and his wife left him, he committed suicide, his family said.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=01OW0ubfyedK7Benjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

12:33am: A team carries the body of a young man. After he lost his job and his wife left him, he committed suicide, his family said.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=00kTfNr6IRcLO12:29am: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital.Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=00kTfNr6IRcLOBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images12:29am: A severly injured motorcycle driver is rushed to hospital. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=02MV8QV9K76Yz

12:37am: The motorcycle driver is secured to a stretcher and equipped with a neck brace en route to medical facilities.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=02MV8QV9K76YzBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

12:37am: The motorcycle driver is secured to a stretcher and equipped with a neck brace en route to medical facilities.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=02NI7Dh3RQ7rN

12:45am: Bangkok police examine the site of a second motorcycle accident, this one fatal.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=02NI7Dh3RQ7rNBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

12:45am: Bangkok police examine the site of a second motorcycle accident, this one fatal.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0gQx9xI1C766b

12:51am: Sisters of the victim of a fatal motorcycle accident cry at the scene, as amblance workers arrive.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0gQx9xI1C766bBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

12:51am: Sisters of the victim of a fatal motorcycle accident cry at the scene, as amblance workers arrive.

28.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=09yd8zg5AGb6i12:53am: A drunken man is treated after hurting himself.Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=09yd8zg5AGb6iBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images12:53am: A drunken man is treated after hurting himself.28.jpg http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=05qdgCW2xHe8r

1:35am: Police investigate the scene of a murder - in which a cook at a Chinese restaurant was allegedly stabbed to death by a plate-washing kitchen hand.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=05qdgCW2xHe8rBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

1:35am: Police investigate the scene of a murder - in which a cook at a Chinese restaurant was allegedly stabbed to death by a plate-washing kitchen hand.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0cQrdZE3IlguP

3:34am: After the team dealt with a taxi driver murdered in a gang killing, and the corpse of a man who died from a heart attack, they treat a young woman for a head wound, sustained in a motorbike collision.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0cQrdZE3IlguPBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

3:34am: After the team dealt with a taxi driver murdered in a gang killing, and the corpse of a man who died from a heart attack, they treat a young woman for a head wound, sustained in a motorbike collision.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=08kt1n2429bDE

3:34am: After bandages are applied, the young woman waits for to be taken to hospital.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=08kt1n2429bDEBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

3:34am: After bandages are applied, the young woman waits for to be taken to hospital.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=00HC7SMaITgBB

3:44am: After removing him from the tangled wreckage of a car accident, the body of a young man is laid out at the scene of the crash.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=00HC7SMaITgBBBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

3:44am: After removing him from the tangled wreckage of a car accident, the body of a young man is laid out at the scene of the crash.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0cH66eH4qu8Ns

5:53am After a long night, the emergency team waits for dawn, and the end of their shift.

Mon, 28 May 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/On-the-night-shift%3A-Bangkok%27s-body-collectors?image_id=0cH66eH4qu8NsBenjamin HaselbergerAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

5:53am After a long night, the emergency team waits for dawn, and the end of their shift.



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