Sunday, May 13, 2012

Map Ta Phut toll: 12 dead,129 injured

Twelve people were killed and 129 hurt in the explosion and fire at a petrochemical factory at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate in Rayong province on Saturday, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon confirmed on Sunday.

 Mr Surawit said of the 12 killed, nine died in the explosion at a factory owned by Bangkok Synthethics Co (BSC), two at Bangkok-Rayong Hospital and one at Rayong Hospital.

Of the 129 injured, 99 had been released and 30 were still undergoing treatment - seven at Rayong Hospital, five at Map Ta Phut Hospital, 17 at Bangkok-Rayong Hospital, and one at Queen Sirikit Hospital.

Mr Surawit said the costs of medical treatment for the injured will be taken care of by the government under three healthcare schemes.

Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said he had ordered the closure of the factory where the explosion occurred. He has also instructed other factories in the industrial estate to recheck their security systems since the operations of more than half of them concern chemicals.

Verapong Chaiperm, governor of the Industrial Estates Authority of Thailand, said the fire at the factory was extinguished early Sunday. The damage had yet to be assessed, he said.

Kessarin Raksasang, an environment officer at BSC, said toluene might have caused the fire after being exposed to excessive heat.

Before the fire, the factory was closed for repairs, she said.

Early today, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited the industrial estate and met the people injured in the explosion.

Ms Yingluck has also set up a tripartite committee to examine possible toxic contamination in the area. The committee comprises experts from the Industry Ministry, the Pollution Control Department and representatives from local communties.

Thousands of people in 12 communities around Map Ta Phut were evacuated yesterday.