Thai police say 13 people killed, 35 injured in nightclub fire

PHOTO: Sawang Rojanathammasathan Rescue Foundation

BANGKOK - At least 13 people were killed and 35 injured when a fire broke out at a nightclub in Thailand's eastern Chonburi province early on Friday (Aug 5), a police official said.  

The cause of the fire is still unknown and all victims so far have been identified as Thai nationals, police said.

A separate statement from the Chonburi emergency service described 14 of the injuries as severe.  

The fire at the Mountain B nightclub, about 180km southeast of the capital Bangkok, started at about 1am local time (2am Singapore time), Wuttipong Somjai, a superintendent at a local police station, told Reuters by phone.  

Local TV footage showed people fleeing the fire and emergency workers putting out flames and looking through the burnt-out premises, with shoes and bottles strewn across the ground.  

A witness who went by the name Nana told local TV she was with five friends when the fire broke out at the venue.  

"I saw flames above the stage, on the right side. I think it was about the same time at the singer on stage saw it too and he shouted 'fire!' and threw the mic at it," she told broadcaster PPTV. "I saw a lot of the pub's bouncers covered in fire inside."

The Mountain B had only opened just over a month before the incident, according to local media.

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The one-story venue is located on Sukhumvit Road, a famous motorway which connects Bangkok to the areas of the resort town of Pattaya and is populated by a number of bars and hotels.

The incident comes 13 years after pyrotechnics started a blaze at a New Year's party at the crowded Santika nightclub in Bangkok, killing 66 people. Investigations into that fire found several key breaches at the club, and official corruption and revealed lax attitudes towards safety at entertainment venues at the time.  

Concerns have long been raised about Thailand's lax approach to health and safety, particularly in its countless bars and nightclubs.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday assured victims families they would receive help from authorities and urged entertainment venues nationwide to ensure they have proper emergency exits and safety measures in place.

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