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Pub fire update: compensation, illegal operation, flaming rain

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PHOTO: Details of the pub fire continue to emerge. (via Sawang Boriboon Foundation)

More details are emerging about the tragic fire that tore through the Mountain B Pub in the Sattahip district of Chon Buri on Thursday evening, as reported yesterday. The building was licensed as a restaurant and opened after hours illegally, the owner was previously arrested for operating illegally, and additional exits were blocked.

The pub was licenced for use solely as a restaurant that could sell its diners alcohol but could be open only until midnight, while the fire took place just before 1am, according to Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda. The location of the building prohibits all nightlife entertainment venues.

Investigations continue into the building being open illegally, as well as the exact cause of the fire in the pub and how the events of the tragedy unfolded. An immediate inspection had to be called off yesterday morning as the fire rekindled and the building had to be evacuated.

An electrician has been reportedly questioned by police after previously doing some repairs to the power systems recently.

Over 100 customers were said to be inside at the time of the fire, which began on the roof and spread quickly due to soundproofing foam lining the ceiling. A survivor reported that she heard a loud explosion on the stage and a ceiling panel on fire crashed down onto the stage. A 30 year old singer was on stage at the time and his friends reported he couldn’t outrun the flames after the explosion.

Moments later, flaming ceiling tiles began raining down on the patrons as they scrambled in terror to escape the single exit accessible.

The singer’s family is demanding accountability and compensation for their son’s death, saying he was the breadwinner of the family.

New reporting says there were two other exits to the building, a back door that was used to load band equipment and then blocked and locked, and a side door that was locked at all times, creating one small exit that bargoers stampeded, some on fire and desperate to escape.

The death toll now stands at 14, with 13 dying on-site and another victim perishing at the hospital later. The number of injured was reduced from 41 to 38 total, with 20 sustaining injuries and severe burns so intense they required ventilators. Twelve of those victims have been transferred to various hospitals around Bangkok.

The victims will receive a meagre compensation – 4000 baht for those injured in the pub fire, raised to 13,300 baht if the injury is debilitating long-term. The families of those who perished will receive 29,700 baht each, with that number doubled if the person who died in the fire was considered a family breadwinner.

A command centre was set up by the charred remains of the pub by the Chon Buri Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to assist victims and facilitate payouts. Compensation has been approved already for five of the 14 people who died from the fire.

As is often the response to tragedies that are mishandled or should have been regulated better, the Sattahip district chief has been transferred to an inactive position in the Department of Provincial Administration as somewhat of a punishment while the incident is investigated.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post, Thai PBS World, and TPN National

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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