A devastating blast at a fireworks warehouse in Sungai Kolok, a market town situated on the Malaysian border in southern Thailand, has left at least ten people dead, including three children. The explosion, which occurred on Saturday, also resulted in serious injuries to at least 115 individuals and caused significant destruction in Narathiwat province. Preliminary investigations suggest that the tragic incident was likely triggered by a “technical error” during construction work on the building, involving steel welding.
According to eyewitness accounts, the explosion struck around 15:00 local time (09:00 BST), sending shockwaves through the area. Buildings were rattled, windows shattered, and roofs collapsed, while a massive plume of smoke billowed into the sky. The force of the explosion devastated a considerable portion of the market town, leaving the community in a state of shock and grief.
Local governor Sanon Pongaksorn, addressing the press, stated that the death toll currently stands at ten but cautioned that it may rise as rescuers have encountered difficulties identifying some remains. The tragic loss of lives, including young children, has plunged the region into mourning and prompted a thorough investigation into the cause of the disaster.
Eyewitness Seksan Taesen, who resides near the market, described the terrifying experience, saying he heard a deafening noise that shook his entire house. As he looked outside, he was confronted with a scene of chaos, with collapsed houses and injured people strewn across the ground. The force of the explosion had torn apart roofs and structures, leaving the community in a state of shock and sorrow.
Accidents involving fireworks are not uncommon in South East Asia, where these pyrotechnics are frequently used to celebrate significant events. Unfortunately, the inherent risks associated with the storage and handling of fireworks have led to past tragedies in the region. In this instance, a market fire caused by the warehouse explosion has added to the grim list of incidents, leaving families devastated and the community traumatized.
While the authorities have indicated that a construction-related “technical error” is the likely cause of the explosion, the incident also highlights broader safety concerns in Thailand. Despite public demands for improved safety regulations, the country continues to face challenges in enforcing safety measures, resulting in accidents on roads, construction sites, and workplaces.
The town of Sungai Kolok, known for its bustling and sometimes unruly nature, faces unique challenges in maintaining safety and order. Its location near the border, coupled with a history of armed insurgency in the region, adds to the complexity of ensuring compliance with safety standards.
As investigations into the fireworks warehouse explosion continue, the focus remains on supporting the affected families and addressing safety lapses. Authorities must take swift and comprehensive action to prevent similar tragedies in the future, emphasizing the importance of stringent safety protocols in handling hazardous materials.