– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: an explosion ripped through a scrapyard in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district yesterday, killing seven victims and injuring 20 others, after workers unknowingly cut open an aerial bomb from World War II.
“Such a bomb usually weighs about 500 pounds [227 kilograms] and has the power to damage [everything] within a 500-metre radius,” Pol Colonel Kamthorn Uicharoen of the Office of the Forensic Science Police said.
As of press time, the scrapyard was cordoned off as explosive-ordnance officials scoured the place.
“We have found the explosion caused a three-metre-deep and eight-metre-wide hole in the ground,” Kamthorn said.
Witnesses told police the fatal blast took place after the scrapyard bought what looked like a thick oval-shaped iron bar and tried to cut it with gas. The bar reportedly weighed over 200 kilograms.
“The owner and workers of the scrapyard might have mistaken the aerial bomb as a simple steel bar,” Kamthorn said.
Metropolitan Police Division 2 commander Maj-General Suranit Prombutr, said this explosion was an accident. He confirmed the incident was definitely not related to political unrest, which has been blamed for several other recent blasts.
According to Bang Khen District Office’s director Kris Kiartpanachart, the scrapyard is located inside Wat Trai Rattanaram Community. Glass windows of several local houses were shattered by the blast.
Nattanan Panthong, chair of the community, quoted a local as saying construction workers found the oval-shaped iron item while they were digging a hole for a foundation pillar at a nearby construction site.
“So, they picked it up. Four of them then headed to the scrapyard in the hope of trading the item for cash,” Nattanan said.
The scrapyard had reportedly offered Bt10 per kilo. Before any payment was made, scrapyard workers were told to cut the item to check its quality.
Nattanan identified one of the sellers as Jeerasak Tabtimtong, who was killed in the blast.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Pusadee Tamthai warned people not to collect suspicious items they have discovered.
“It’s best to alert security officials for safety reasons,” she said.
Kris said the explosion rocked the scrapyard at around 12.15pm and officials managed to put out a fire there by 1pm.
His district office will today set up a tent near the scene to facilitate victims filing complaints with police and seeking help.
Many victims are now receiving treatment at the Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital, the Mayo Hospital, and the Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital.
PHUKET: Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, as the adviser to the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said the CAPO might set up a war room, especially to keep an eye on the rival political rallies on Saturday. However, the police and military force deployed currently should be enough to handle the situation.
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Promphan warned that Saturday’s red-shirt rally was just the beginning of a show of force and the number of red-shirt protesters would multiply for the next rally.
The military top brass yesterday held a meeting to discuss plans on how to handle violence stemming from mass rallies.
The discussions were not revealed.
Jatuporn has vowed to mobilise up to 500,000 protesters to rally at Aksa Road on Saturday in order to avoid clashes with anti-government protesters who are camping at Lumpini Park.
“The number of protesters will multiply for the next rally. We will rally on the most beautiful road so that we have the most beautiful picture of protesters facing the Buddha statue. The huge masses that spring up on the roads in protest will shake the residences of the ‘courtiers’ like an earthquake,” he said.
He said the rally on Saturday was actually a rehearsal or a ceremony aimed at boosting the red shirts’ morale and disgracing the enemy before a battle.
“This is not the time to reach breaking point. But we want to tell people who back Suthep to stop doing that so that problems end,” he said.
Udon Thani red-shirt leader Kwanchai Sarakham (Praipana) said he and Suporn Atthawong would lead 1,000 Democracy Protection Volunteers to guard the red-shirt rally on Saturday. The volunteers are red shirt-trained guards.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday the military could not oust the caretaker government, just as employees cannot oust company executives if they disagreed with them.
Prayuth was speaking before a four-hour meeting of the military top brass to discuss the country’s political situation. The service chiefs did not give interviews after the meeting.
Asked to respond to a call that the military reject the power of the caretaker government, Prayuth said such a proposition was not allowed within the legal system. “It is hard to answer the question because if we accept [such a proposition] it means we side with another camp. Suppose you are a worker and you disagree with your company executives, do you dare to oust them? You have to do your duty without criticising too much because you need to maintain your status so that you can do your jobs,” he said.
Prayuth was asked if the military would quietly mediate talks between caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. He poked fun at the idea, saying he could not because both were too big to move, but “We have to help them find a chance to talk. Anything can happen,” he said.
An official of the CAPO, Sirima Sunawin, said the centre had called on members of the public against joining the rally of both political camps for their own safety. The agency also cautioned rally leaders against mobilising protesters because if any offences were committed during the protest, the protest leaders would be held responsible.
Yingluck, who is also caretaker defence minister, yesterday held a meeting with security officials, including permanent secretary of defence General Nipat Thonglek and Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabut, as the incumbent secretary-general of the National Security Council while Thawil Pliensri’s reinstatement is pending royal endorsement.
PHUKET: The Constitutional Court yesterday voted unanimously to proceed with a petition against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who has been accused of breaching the charter with regard to the transfer of the National Security Council (NSC) chief.
“We agree to consider the petition against the prime minister and ask that she defend herself within 15 days of receiving the court papers,” the court said in a statement. If found guilty of breaching the Constitution, Yingluck and her entire Cabinet could face dismissal for approving Thawil’s transfer.
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— Phuket Gazette Editors