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Thirteen killed in explosion at Thai fireworks factory

Ayutthaya, Oct 3 (TNA) - A powerful explosion at a fireworks factory in central province of Ayutthaya Sunday afternoon killed 13 people and injured three others, police said.

All the dead and injured were from the factory.

According to preliminary investigation, about 16-20 workers were at the Boonlue fireworks factory when the blast occurred. The explosion flattened the factory.The three injured workers were hospitalized.

Official said the factory was operating illegally after having had its license revoked last year following an earlier explosion.

Police blamed "carelessness" for the blast. They suspected the accident may have been the result of increased fireworks production at the factory to complete orders ahead of Loi Krathong festival.(TNA)--E001

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14 dead in Thailand fireworks fire


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- A massive explosion at a fireworks factory in central Thailand has killed 14 people, including a 4-year-old boy, and injured two others, a police official said.

About 20 workers were at the Boonlue fireworks factory in the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya when the blast occurred Sunday afternoon, causing the building's roof to collapse, police Maj. Gen. Wanchai Thanakit said. The two injured workers were hospitalized.

The factory was operating illegally after having had its license revoked last year following an earlier explosion, he told reporters.

Police are investigating the cause of the accident, Wanchai said.

Further details were not immediately available, including the identity of the 4-year-old boy.

Ayuthaya is about 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Bangkok.

--CNN 2004-10-03

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FIREWORKS TRAGEDY: Mysteryblasts at factory kill 10

Nearby residences damaged; authorities at odds over whether operation was legal

At least 10 people were killed and three others injured in explosions that destroyed a fireworks factory in Muang district yesterday afternoon, officials and police said.

All the dead and injured worked at the now-flattened Boonleur factory in Tambon Baan Koh. The blasts, which occurred at around 3pm, also damaged seven houses and caused panicked residents to flee their homes.

The cause of the explosions remained unknown last night, while the provincial governor and the Department of Industrial Works further confused matters by giving contradictory reports on whether the factory was properly licensed.

Governor Somsak Kaewsutthi said the owner of the Bt2-million factory was granted a licence in 1990 and renewed it one month ago. But the department’s director-general, Ruangsak Ngarmsompak, insisted the factory was operating illegally and questioned why the plant was situated so close to a residential estate.

“I was watching television when I heard a loud boom that shook the ground,” said Thana Pothitawin, 21, who lives 200 metres from the site. “I got up and saw fire engulfing the factory. Then came another blast – the impact of which damaged one side of my house. I jumped out of the house, breaking my left arm in the process, and ran for my life.”

Police said the intensity of the blast was making it hard to identify the victims. Initial reports put the toll at seven men and three women, with more casualties expected.

Villager Prasith Thotawin said he arrived at the site to find four youths aged between 13 and 15 with severe burns and helped rush them to a nearby hospital.

The factory moved to its current location from a different site on the same road over a decade ago after

the original building was destroyed in a similar accident, said Industrial Works official Prasert Tapineeyanguru.

A villager who asked not to be named said the previous incident killed four people, prompting many neighbours to reinforce their homes with “bunker walls” to cushion the impact of any subsequent blasts.

“The factory was quite big – about 700-800 square metres – which made me wonder why it was so close to the community,” said Ruangsak. The factory compound was completely flattened and charred debris littered surrounding fields.

The aftershock from yesterday’s blasts rocked Kohkaew Temple a kilometre away.

“It struck my kuti [living quarters] and things began falling off the walls,” said one of the temple’s monks.

Police suspect the accident may have been the result of the company’s rush to increase production to satisfy heavy orders ahead of the Loi Krathong festival on November 26.

Some officials also believed that drilling work to establish a large water container in a nearby area could have caused the explosions.

Setting up a fireworks factory requires approval from the Defence, Interior and Industry ministries. It was disclosed late last night that the owner of the Boonleur factory, Boonleur Imsuwan, 52, received approval from the Defence and Interior ministries but not the Industry Ministry.

Police were yesterday interrogating Boonleur, who could face up to two years in jail if he is found guilty of operating the factory illegally.

Of the dozens of workers employed there, it remains unclear how many were present when the explosions took place.

--The Nation 2004-10-03

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