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Explosion at Bangkok chemical factory

Dozens of people were injured after an explosion at a foam and plastic pallet factory in southern Bangkok.

At least 33 people were injured and one killed in an explosion at a chemical factory near the Thai capital Bangkok on Monday.

Local media reported that several of the injured were involved in firefighting and rescue efforts.

The incident occurred in Bang Phli district in Samut Prakan province and caused extensive damage to surrounding buildings, including nearby residential areas up to 1km away.

The Ming Dih factory is located near Suvarnabhumi Airport and produces plastic granules. The fire broke out early in the morning, and by late afternoon, clouds of black smoke were still billowing from the site, some of which reached as far as Bangkok.

“At first it looked like lightning. Then I heard something fall and for a while the house started shaking as if there had been an earthquake.” Baitong Nisarat, a local resident, told Reuters.

How did the authorities respond?

More than 30 fire engines and helicopters were deploy, according to the Bangkok Post. Firefighters seen cutting through the rubble and approaching the flames.

Fearing more explosions, Thai authorities evacuated residents within a 5-kilometre (3-mile) radius. According to newspaper reports, about 50 tons of chemicals were stored in five or six warehouses on the same factory site.

Styrene monomer, a liquid chemical used in the manufacture of disposable plates, cups and other foam items, was one of the main substances stored at the site, authorities said. When ignited, toxic fumes are release.

A school and a government office were set up as evacuation centers while emergency workers continued to search for survivors.

Firefighters said they had the fire under control but did not disclose the cause of the explosion.

The Mindy Group of Companies, which owns the factory, is based in Taiwan.

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