PM orders probe into club blaze

PRIME minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into a massive blaze that tore through a nightclub, killing at least 14 people.

The fire broke out at around 6pm local time on Thursday at the Mountain B nightspot in Chonburi province’s Sattahip district, about 150km southeast of Bangkok.

Video footage posted by a rescue service showed screaming revellers fleeing the club, their clothes ablaze, as a huge fire raged.

The Sawang Rojanathammasathan Rescue Foundation said 14 people were killed and more than 40 injured.

The service said the blaze was accelerated by flammable acoustic foam on the walls of the club, and it took firefighters more than three hours to bring it under control.

Prayut offered condolences to the victims’ families and said he had ordered a probe into the fire.

The dead – four women and 10 men – were found mostly crowded by the entrance and in the bathroom, their bodies severely burnt, the service said.

They were aged between 17 and 49, and all are believed to have been Thai.

One of the victims was the singer of the band playing at the club, his mother told local media.

“I don’t know what to say. The death came all of a sudden,” Premjai Sae-Oung told reporters.

She said a musician friend who managed to escape had told her the fire broke out in front of the band and spread rapidly.

Images of the aftermath showed how the fire had turned the inside of the club into a blackened wreck, with the charred metal frames of furniture scattered among ashes.

Engineers were inspecting the one-storey building amid fears it could collapse.

Interior minister Anupong Paochinda said it appeared the Mountain B was operating “without permission” as an entertainment venue.Concerns have long been raised about Thailand’s lax approach to health and safety rules, particularly in its countless bars and nightclubs.

A massive inferno erupted at a New Year’s Eve party at Bangkok’s swanky Santika club in 2009, killing 67 people and injuring over 200.

More recently, four people were killed in a fire caused by an electrical fault at a club on the holiday island of Phuket in 2012. — AFP

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