Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Thai police seek club blaze clues


Eyewitness video shows emergency services at the scene

Police are investigating the cause of a fire in a Bangkok nightclub that killed 59 people, amid reports that fireworks were to blame.

More than 200 people, including at least four Britons, were injured in the fire at the Santika club.

Survivors have accused the venue of ignoring basic safety rules.

Customers were reportedly allowed to detonate firecrackers inside the club, which lacked a fire exit and had bars on the windows.

The police say there are no grounds yet for charging the owners of the club, but an investigation into the causes of the fire will be completed within two to three weeks.

Safety concerns

Only a full investigation can give a definitive answer as to whether the Santika was unsafe, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Thailand.

But already there is enough circumstantial evidence from the accounts of survivors to conclude that the club probably failed to meet the most basic safety standards, he says.

The management allowed fireworks to be lit inside a building packed with up to 1,000 revellers.

Steven Hall describes how he escaped the fire

Material that ignited in the ceiling - possibly soundproofing - flared into an inferno in just a few minutes and produced toxic fumes which killed many of the victims.

There was no emergency lighting, so people had to find their way out in pitch darkness.

The venue was not even registered as a nightclub - a situation which our correspondent says is not uncommon in Thailand.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who went to see the charred building, said he believed guests had been allowed to bring firecrackers into the club and he called for stricter controls.


Video of the immediate aftermath shows terrified party-goers stumbling out of the blazing club, many of them bruised or burned and in torn clothing.

Some witnesses saw flames shooting up from a stage in the club shortly after midnight, setting the ceiling alight.

Rescue workers carry a body from the Bangkok nightclub

They described panic among the crowd as the club was plunged into darkness and the burning ceiling collapsed.

A resident of an apartment block behind the nightclub, Sompong Tritweelap, told the Associated Press news agency he had seen screaming people battling to escape the flames.

"I saw people, particularly young girls, being pushed away and crushed underneath as others were stomping on them trying to get out," he said.

A joint roster provided by Bangkok hospitals shows that three Japanese, two South Koreans and one Singaporean were treated while another Singaporean died.

One of the Japanese casualties was in a coma and suffering from burns over 60% of his body, doctors said.

The UK Foreign Office said at least four Britons had been hurt.

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