World · August 6, 2022

Fire in Thai nightclub kills 14 people, PM orders polls

The Thai prime minister on Friday ordered an investigation into a huge fire that hit a nightclub, killing at least 14 people.

The fire broke out around 1:00 am (1800 GMT on Thursday) at the Mountain B nightclub in the Sattahip district of Chonburi province, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Bangkok.

Video footage posted by a rescue service showed desperate revelers fleeing the club screaming, their clothes on fire, as a huge fire raged in the background.

Chalit Chotisupakarn, who escaped with burns to his arms and torso, described scenes of panic and despair as people struggled to get out of the building.

“I couldn’t see anything, it was all dark. Everyone was shouting ‘Go away! Go out!’ We all had to try to get out of it, ”she told reporters.

“I just pushed and pushed. There were people with fire all over their bodies “.

The Sawang Rojanathammasathan Rescue Foundation said 14 people were killed and around 40 injured.

The service said the fire was accelerated by flammable acoustic foam on the club’s walls and that it took firefighters more than three hours to keep it under control.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha expressed condolences to the families of the victims and said he had ordered an investigation into the fire.

The dead – four women and 10 men – were found mostly huddled in the entrance and bathroom, their bodies badly burned, the service said.

They were between the ages of 17 and 49 and it is believed that they were all Thais.

“There is no death related to foreigners,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Boonsong Yingyong of Phlu Ta Luang Police Station, who oversees the area where the fire occurred, told AFP over the phone.

– charred wreck –

One of the victims was the lead singer of the band playing in the club, his mother told local media.

“I don’t know what to say. Death came suddenly,” Premjai Sae-Oung told reporters.

She said a musician friend who escaped told her the fire broke out in front of the band and spread quickly.

Images of the aftermath showed how the fire had turned the club’s interior into a blackened wreck, with the charred metal structures of the furniture scattered among the ash.

Police are investigating the presence of fire escapes in the one-story building and engineers are inspecting the structure for fear of it collapsing.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda told reporters that it appeared that Mountain B was operating “without permission” to function as an entertainment venue.

Sompong Chingduang, assistant commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, said the owner was under investigation for apparently changing the venue from restaurant to nightclub without permission.

Concerns have long been raised about Thailand’s lax approach to health and safety regulations, particularly in its countless bars and nightclubs.

A huge hell erupted during a New Year’s Eve party at Bangkok’s posh Santika club in 2009, killing 67 people and injuring more than 200.

Santika’s owner was jailed for three years for the fire, which began when fireworks were detonated while a rock band called Burn played on stage.

More recently, four people were killed in a fire caused by an electrical failure at a club on the tourist island of Phuket, a magnet for foreign tourists, in 2012.