Fresh explosion injures firefighters at chemical factory in Thailand


BANGKOK, July 6 (Xinhua) — A fresh explosion triggered by re-ignited blaze injured an unclear number of firefighters Tuesday afternoon at a Thai chemical factory outside the Thai capital of Bangkok, local police confirmed.

The new blast occurred at around 5 p.m. local time, sending black plumes of smoke into the air and injuring several firefighters working at the site, but the exact number remained unavailable, the police said.

An explosion and ensuing fire on Monday at the plastic pellet factory killed one firefighter and injured dozens of others. Residents in the area have been evacuated, but firefighters remained at the site, trying to prevent the highly flammable styrene monomer stored in the factory from re-igniting.

Firefighters have managed to put the re-ignited fire under control so far.

Meanwhile, the initial blaze at the chemical plant outside Bangkok was extinguished early Tuesday, more than 24 hours after an explosion killed one person, injured dozens of others and emitted toxic smoke that officials warned may cause health hazards.

The fire caused an explosion in the Ming Dih Chemical factory, near Bangkok’s main airport the Suvarnabhumi international airport, at around 3 a.m. local time Monday. More than 30 people were injured and hospitalized and one person, identified as a 19-year-old fire fighter, was killed at the scene.

Although fire was put out during the wee hours of Tuesday, fire fighters continued to shower water and chemical foam onto the fire bases to cool off the temperature at the site in order to prevent the highly flammable styrene monomer from re-igniting, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Investigation into the cause of the accident was underway.

Due to concerns about the toxic smoke emerging out and strong winds, officials have ordered an evacuation radius of 10 km Monday and told local residents to avoid exposing to any fumes from the plastic pellet factory, warning that inhaling it may cause respiratory distress, headache or coma in high exposure.

On Tuesday, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the Pollution Control Department director general said the department was monitoring the air and water quality in the area of the accident, and considered reducing evacuation areas to allow some residents to return home.

The department will continue to monitor the pollution for three further days as he warned that if rain comes, the chemicals may be washed into water bodies, which may be a situation difficult to control.

The factory was established in Thailand by business people from China’s Taiwan in 1989. It issued a statement Tuesday, pledging to offer compensation for those affected by the accident after the investigation result comes out.