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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Thai blaze leaves many homeless
Blaze in Bangkok
The fire sent a thick plume of smoke into the sky above Bangkok
A massive fire in a densely-populated slum district of Thailand's capital, Bangkok, has left up to 3,000 people homeless, local officials say.

Firefighters spent three hours battling the blaze in the Tungmahamek shantytown, near several embassies - no damage to these has been reported.

Sathorn district head Prasan Bumrungput told Bangkok radio nearly 700 wooden homes had been destroyed.

There was no information about casualties or the cause of the fire.

Buckets of water

"When I saw the flames, I just ran. I've got nothing left," a resident of the area told the Reuters news agency.

Fire engines at the scene are said to have had difficulty reaching the source of the blaze because the slum's narrow lanes were crowded with belongings salvaged by residents.

Eyewitnesses said the flames looked very large, but were confined to a relatively small area.

Large plumes of black smoke could be seen above Tungmahamek, near the Sathorn Road business district.

A five-storey block of flats was destroyed, as were several apartments for police officers at a nearby station.

Volunteers aided emergency workers by carrying buckets of water to the fire and directing water hoses at it.

The BBC's Lynne Morrall
"Firefighters spent three hours battling the blaze"

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