New Year fire kills at least 59 at Bangkok pub (Lead)

January 1st, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Jan 1 (DPA) A fire that broke out shortly after midnight Thursday at a popular Bangkok pub killed at least 59 revellers, including some foreigners, and injured 212, the police said.The fire, apparently sparked by a pyrotechnic show to ring in the New Year, broke out about 12.20 a.m. at the popular Santika Club that was packed with some 1,000 revellers.

Police Colonel Suphin Sapphuang said 59 people had been confirmed dead - 53 at the scene and six who succumbed to their injuries later in hospital, the Bangkok Post online news service reported.

Another 212 people were injured and taken to 14 Bangkok hospitals for treatment for burns and smoke inhalation.

Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition and were not carrying papers, hampering the identification process.

Of some 30 bodies sent to the morgue at Chulalongkorn Hospital, only 17 of the dead had been identified Thursday afternoon, including one Singaporean, the Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who visited the scene of the fire Thursday morning, announced that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had set up a centre for coordinating assistance for people injured in the inferno.

Police have speculated that the fire was sparked by a fireworks display on the third floor of the club shortly after midnight.

“There were some pyrotechnics and it appears that they started the blaze,” said Police Lieutenant-Colonel Prawit Kantwol.

Most died in the rush to get out of the pub’s main door, either from suffocation or being trampled to death, although there were three other exits in the building.

Ironically, the pub’s New Year’s party promotion gimmick was “Goodbye Santika” as the owner was planning to move to a new venue.

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