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Death of workers in sewer both accident and mistake, says manager

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Death of workers in sewer both accident and mistake, says manager | Thaiger

PHUKET: Workplace health and safety officials will investigate the deaths of four sewer maintenance workers who died of asphyxiation in a Phuket Town sewer on Wednesday morning.

“We will start our investigation on Tuesday, when we will interview representatives from the contractor and the municipality to establish precisely what happened,” Yudhakarn Ovasith, chief of the Phuket Provincial Labour Protection and Welfare Office, told the Phuket Gazette yesterday.

“This is a big case. We will need assistance from the regional office in Surat Thani. They have better qualified experts and the right equipment for carrying out the investigation.”

The four workers died after being overpowered by hydrogen sulphide fumes that had built up in a sewer on Si Sena Road, on the east side of town.

The four who died – Thawat and Suchet Chitchollatarn, Sanan Buachoom and Apisit Tipprasong – had been tasked with maintenance of a sewer access point, and they succumbed to the fumes one by one, trying to rescue each other (story here).

“We will launch our investigation as soon as we have received a report for our Phuket office,” said Chaowalit Bunyanukulkit, chief of the Occupational Safety and Health Bureau – Region 11 office in Surat Thani.

“We need to clearly establish what happened, what safety procedures were in place and how future incidents like this can be avoided.

“We will also need to review the contract between the maintenance company and the municipality to see which safety provisions were required according to municipal regulations. However, the municipality and the contractor are both required to comply with Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Act BE 2554.”

Pimook Sornmee, the manager of the contracted maintenance company Eastern Thai Consulting 1992 Co Ltd, on Thursday branded the incident “both an accident and a mistake”.

“The tragic deaths were due to a lethal combination of sweltering heat and stagnant water, ending in the formation and build up of hydrogen sulfide within the confined area of the sewer, and inadequate safety measures,” he admitted.

Maintenance workers check the sewers’ water levels every week and clean them every other week, said Mr Pimook.

During last week’s check, the water level in the sewer was high. The workers plugged the sewage drainpipes with sandbags to prevent water flowing into the sewer so they could come back to clean it out, he explained.

“Phuket has had very hot weather this month. The extreme heat in the pipes combined with the stagnant water to create hydrogen sulfide gas, and the sandbags allowed it to build up in the pipes,” Mr Pimook said.

“Water flowing into the pipes has been very strong and burst the sandbags. This allowed the gas to escape from the pipes and into the sewer.”

The gases built up before the maintenance workers arrived to clean, and the men did not wear masks when they entered the sewer, he added.

“The workers made a mistake by not wearing masks into the sewer, but they could not have known that the sandbags had broken before they arrived to work,” said Mr Pimook.

He pointed out that another maintenance team has now removed the sandbags to allow water to flow and dispel the gas.

Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana reported to the press on Thursday that one of the four injured rescue workers, Jessada Janpen, remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Vachira Phuket Hospital.

“The other three are doing better and have been transferred to a different unit for recovery,” she said.

In an effort to improve safety for workers, Ms Somjai has requested a meeting with the company to discuss ways to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“We need to put security measures in place to protect workers from accidents like this. We should start by finding a better way to seal pipes instead of using sandbags and by providing protective clothing for workers who may come into contact with toxic fumes,” she said.

Mr Pimook announced that his company would compensate the families of the deceased for their loss and cover the treatment costs for his staff, and the rescue workers, harmed in the incident.

“We are taking into account the economic situations of each family, and how we can take care of them,” he explained.

Each family who lost a loved one will receive 100,000 baht for the funeral arrangements, he said.

The company also applied for accident and life insurance for the families, from which each can receive 400,000 baht.

“We will also pay for the treatment of the rescue workers injured in the accident,” Mr Pimook said.

Mayor Somjai explained to the press that government regulations prohibited Phuket City Municipality from making compensation payments to the victims or their relatives, as the maintenance workers and the rescue workers were not directly employed by the municipality

“However, we will continue to visit the victims in the hospital and help them there as best we can,” she said.

— Irfarn Jamdukor

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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