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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 | The 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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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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