24 Jan 2009

Fireworks caused Bangkok nightclub inferno

10:02 pm on 24 January 2009

The fire that killed 65 people in a Bangkok nightclub on New Year's Day was caused by fireworks, AFP reports.

Announcing the finding of the police investigation into the disaster, Thailand's deputy national police chief, General Jongrak Jutanont, would not say whether the fire was started by a pyrotechnics display put on by the Santika club or by the sparklers handed out to partygoers. He promised full details on Monday.

Police have so far charged five people in connection with the fire, which also injured more than 200 revellers, minutes after the New Year countdown.

Earlier this month, arrest warrants were issued for two men involved in the running of Santika on charges of negligence causing death and admitting under-age people. On Friday, Santika's general manager, marketing manager and entertainment manager were also charged with negligence leading to death, according to General Jongrak. He says there will be further arrests.

Club had been refused operating licence

Emergency services have said the death toll was high because the upmarket club had few exits and the windows on the upper floors had iron bars across them. Some of the dead were crushed to death in the stampede to escape.

Santika had been refused an operating licence since 2004 because of safety concerns but remained open while appealing that decision.