23 die in Thailand fireworks factory

Henry

At least 23 people died on Wednesday after an explosion at a fireworks factory in Thailand.

The explosion occurred at around 3:00 pm (0800 GMT) near Sala Khao, in central Suphan Buri province.

“We have received reports from the team that 23 deaths have been confirmed,” Nattapat Suwanprateep, governor of Suphan Buri province, told AFP.

There is not yet any information on the cause of the explosion. Nattapat says officers are investigating.

“The factory was operated legally with valid licenses,” he said.

Police officials said the surrounding area did not sustain any damage. “Windows on one house were affected by the blast, but there were no further reports,” Nattapat added.

Lt. Gen. Naiyawat Phademchid of the police told AFP that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who is currently attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, had been informed about the incident.

The bodies will be identified as soon as the situation is stabilized.

“There were on average between 20 and 30 people who worked daily at this factory,” said a police officer.

Srettha expressed his condolences to the families in an official statement, which was shared online. He also demanded that an investigation be instituted to determine whether the factory was operated illegally, as well as to determine the cause of the incident.

Explosions at workshops producing fireworks are not uncommon in Thailand. At least 10 people died last year in an explosion at a fireworks warehouse in Sungai Kolok, Narathiwa. The explosion is believed to have been caused by welding during construction work on the building. The police later searched for the owners on charges of negligence.

Eleven people were also injured last year when a fireworks factory exploded in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand.

Thailand generally has a poor safety record in the construction industry and fatal accidents occur frequently.