At least 12 people have been killed and more than 100 others injured after an explosion ripped through a fireworks warehouse in southern Thailand, officials said.
According to international media reports, the blast in the town of Sungai Kolok in the southern province of Narathiwat on Saturday is thought to have been caused by welding during construction work on the building, the provincial governor said.
“There are 10 deaths plus the remains of two unidentified persons, which were sent for DNA checks,” officials said, adding that 121 were injured, two severely.
The Narathiwat province’s Public Relations Department said more than 200 households were affected. It said that officials believe there are still a number of people trapped under the debris. The blast caused damage in a radius of about 500 metres (1,640 feet), it said.
Videos posted on social media from the site showed a huge plume of smoke over the area and many damaged structures, cars and motorbikes, as well as streets covered with debris. Many of the houses and other buildings appear to have collapsed roofs and walls.
Thai media said as many as 500 houses were damaged by the explosion in the border town on the frontier with Malaysia.
Witness Seksan Taesen, who lives 100 metres (328 feet) away from the warehouse, said there was “chaos” after the blast.
“I was playing with my phone inside the house then suddenly, I heard a loud, thunderous noise and my whole house shook,” Seksan told reporters.
“Then I saw my roof was wide open. I looked outside and I saw houses collapsing and people lying on the ground everywhere. It was chaos.”
Narathiwat police commander, Police Major General Chalermporn Khamkhiew, said shortly before the explosion firecrackers had been delivered.
“We are investigating if those firecrackers were transported legally or illegally,” he said.
“As of now, we do not see any licence for possession of firecrackers or firecracker sales,” he said.
The blast detonated from roughly 1,000kg (2,200 pounds) of gunpowder, he said, causing two holes roughly 2 metres ( 6.5 feet) deep and 6 metres (20 feet) wide.
“We have issued a summons to the owner of the factory with the charge of negligence, which caused the accident,” said Colonel Suthawet Thareethai, police chief in Muno district.