Bangkok: 1 January 2009
At least 59 people have died and many more have been injured in a fire which took hold in a Bangkok nightclub shortly after midnight as party-goers were celebrating the New Year. The blaze occurred at the Santika club located on Sukhumvit 63 which is close to the Ekamai and Thong Lor districts of the Thai capital. It is believed that up to 1,000 people may have been present inside the venue which attracts a young and trendy crowd including many Bangkok students.
There were initial suggestions that an electrical fault was the cause of the blaze, but unconfirmed local reports indicate that the fire was started by a firework that was lit to welcome in the New Year. The Nation website has quoted a worker at the club saying that the fire was sparked shortly after midnight by a ‘special effect firework’ that seemingly went astray and set light to combustible material in the ceiling of the venue. The worker says that the fire and smoke spread quickly and there was panic with a stampede for the same front exit. Fire-fighters were quick to arrive on the scene but dozens of people trapped inside the club were already dead. Local TV channels are reporting that at least 59 people have died so far and there could be up to 200 injured in the tragedy amid fears the death toll could rise still further.