New Year fire kills at least 59, injures 212 more at Bangkok pub

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 has been designated as the Year of the Earth Ox (牛) (by the Chinese calendar).

A Thai inferno greeted the world and the Year of the earth Ox (牛) after a pyrotechnic display started a blaze which ripped through Santika, a three-story Bangkok nightclub, in Ekkamai Soi 9 (Sukhumvit 63), Ekkamai district, Thong Lor. Police Colonel Suphin Sapphuang has confirmed that at least 59 people are dead - 53 at the fire scene and six later in various hospitals. At least 223 people were injured, including 29 foreigners; all have been taken to Bangkok hospitals, including Ramkhamhaeng, Bangkok, Kluaynam Thai 2, Vipa-Ram hospitals, for emergency treatment. Thong Lo (or Thong Lor or Thonglor, ทองหล่อ a.k.a. Sukhumvit Soi 55), is a road in Watthana district, Bangkok, Thailand.

According to Gen. Jongrak Jutanont and media reports, the victims who suffered injuries include at least four Britons, including Steven Hall, a British national, two South Korean, one Singaporean, and four Japanese nationals, and citizens of France, Australia, Nepal, and the Netherlands. Media reports reveal most of the fatalities are Thais but foreign residents and international tourists are also among the fire victims of the "Bad Boy Party". Teo Sze Siong, a Singaporean has died, while one of the Japanese, Wada Keiichi, 25, has 60 percent burns and is in a coma. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says it has confirmed "three Australians - a 29-year-old woman, her 30-year-old brother and a 49-year-old man - have been injured" in the fire. Firemen have put out the blaze after two hours, which started on the upper floor.

Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, pronounced, krūŋtʰêːp máhǎːnákʰɔnlisten, กรุงเทพมหานคร) nighttime.

Lt. Sutin Pongkhamphan has revealed a stampede of about 1,000 celebrants inside the pub, which has few exits, has caused most of the deaths and serious injuries. Others have also died due to burns, smoke inhalation and suffocation. "The fire spread very quickly because there was a lot of fuel in the club, like alcohol, foam and balloons," he added. Police Lieutenant Colonel Prawit Kantwol has further explained that "the fire started from the area of the stage where a band was playing. There were some pyrotechnics and it appears that they started the blaze."

Senior fireman Wacharatpong Sri-Saard has provided details saying "there was only one main way to get out from the front. People who worked there were able to escape from the back because they knew the exits, but the others had no chance." The club's New Year's party poster advertising is entitled "Goodbye Santika," a dire omen and ironic promo gimmick, since the owner has planned to transfer the building to a new location because of termination of lease contract.

Have you visited Thailand? Does Bangkok need to tighten fire regulations on nightclubs and restaurants?

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, on Thursday morning, has said that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has established a coordinating assistance centre for injured victims.

The Asian Tribune says 30 bodies are "very difficult to identify". It has further reported that all charred bodies have been delivered to the Chulalongkorn Hospital for forensic study and identification with the aid of the Police Hospital. "39 bodies had been identified by Thursday afternoon — 38 Thais and one Singaporean," Police Major Akaluk Siriyodsophon said.


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