Thai factory explosion kills one, mass evacuation underway

Thai factory explosion kills one, mass evacuation underway

A huge explosion and fire at a factory on the outskirts of the Thai capital killed at least one person and injured 29 others, officials said, with firefighters struggling to contain the blaze amid the risk of further explosions.
The explosion occurred around 3 a.m. (8 p.m. GMT Sunday) on Monday at a foam and plastic pallet manufacturing plant just outside Bangkok, near the main Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

It could be heard for miles and surveillance footage from a neighboring house captured the flash of light and boom, followed by damage to the house and the house next door from the shock waves.

“At first it was like lightning. After that, I heard something loudly fall, and for a while the house started to shake as if there had been an earthquake, ”said Baitong Nisarat, a resident.

Residents of Samut Prakan province who live within a five-kilometer (3.1-mile) radius of the factory, owned by a Taiwanese company, were evacuated over concerns over toxic fumes from the combustion of chemicals and the possibility of further explosions.

Tony Cheng of Al Jazeera, from Hong Kong, said firefighters were concerned about potential new explosions due to the presence of 20,000 liters of highly flammable chemicals and were struggling to bring the blaze under control.

“In the areas where they thought they had the fire under control, the flames came back very high again,” Cheng said. “It’s clear that it’s a serious challenge that they haven’t overcome yet. “

Local disaster authorities said 70 houses were damaged.

The cause of the explosion had not yet been determined.

Firefighters could be seen in Thai media photos climbing through the twisted steel wreckage of the Ming Dih Complex warehouses to bring their hoses close enough to the flames as they struggled to control the blaze.

The charred body of the only dead person identified to date – a volunteer rescuer – lay face down among the wreckage.

Other photos showed nearby houses with their windows blown out and wreckage in the streets, with black smoke rising above the area.

Volunteer rescuer Anyawut Phoampai told Thai public broadcaster TPBS that early attempts to locate people who may still be in the factory were hampered by the huge flames.

“The flames are quite high, so it takes a considerable effort,” he said as the rescue efforts were underway.

“Rescuers are also on the rise because we are getting calls from people injured by the explosion from the large area a block or two from here. There are reports of falling debris, injuries caused by impacts of debris on people’s heads, ”he added.

Chailit Suwannakitpong, a local disaster prevention official, told the Associated Press news agency that a huge tank containing the chemical styrene monomer continued to burn.

The substance is a hazardous liquid chemical used in the production of disposable foam plates, cups and other products, and may produce toxic fumes when ignited. The chemical itself also emits styrene gas, a neurotoxin, which can immobilize people within minutes of inhalation and can be fatal in high concentrations.

The Ming Dih Factory is located approximately 4.8 km (2.98 miles) from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The airport said flights and its operations were unaffected by the explosion.


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