City Hall Evasive on Man’s Fatal Electrocution

Local motorcycle taxi driver Vichien Chankeawa points to the CCTV pole at the entrance of Soi Phahonyothin 47 where an unidentified man was found electrocuted on Saturday.

BANGKOK — Bangkok City Hall today admitted its CCTV pole may have been responsible for the death of a man on Saturday.

Although Thaweesak Lertpraphan, Director of Bangkok’s Traffic and Transportation Department, said on Sunday there was no electrical leakage from the camera pole next to where the dead man was found, he said today that electrical leakage had been detected in the area.

But he stopped short of confirming that the man died from a fatal electrocution from the CCTV pole, saying more investigation is needed.

The unnamed man, whom police describe as a homeless man is his late 30s, was found dead early Saturday morning next to a security camera pole operated by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration at the entrance of Soi Phahonyothin 47.

The Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine said on Sunday that a preliminary autopsy indicates that the man’s heart stopped beating abruptly due to electrocution. Police also found burn marks on his hand, another sign of electrocution, said the director, Police Maj. Gen Pornchai Suteerakun.

But Thaweesak insisted yesterday that there was no leakage from the cable as alleged by the police. Although some local residents told the media they felt the electric current whenever they touched the pole, Thaweesak said they were merely victims of static electricity.

Thaweesak changed his stance in a news conference held at the City Hall today afternoon. He told reporters BMA tested the electrical current in the area with the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and found leakage in the same vicinity. 

However, Thaweesak said it is too early to pinpoint the source of the leakage. Further investigation is being conducted, he said.

According to BMA officials at the news conference, the pole was installed in 2014. It was inspected in April 2015 and again in Sep. 2015 after officials received reports of electrical leakage, officials said today.

Bangkok Governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, said he has now ordered the Traffic and Transportation Department to check their 50,000 security cameras and 10,000 of its poles across the city. He also said City Hall is willing to offer help to the victim’s family.

But police have yet to identify the victim’s next-of-kin.

“We cannot identify him yet since none of his relatives has contacted us,” said Police Maj. Gen Pornchai, director of the police forensic medicine department.

Pornchai added that another extensive post-mortem examination would be conducted within the next two days to determine the exact cause of death of the unnamed man.

City dangers

Vichien Chankeaw, 63, a local motorcycle taxi driver, said some passers-by have been electrocuted, but not fatally, by electricity leaking from the pole since June 2015. He claimed the issue was already reported to the Chatuchak District Office, but it was never clear whether the district office or the Metropolitan Electricity Authority should take responsibility.

In the wake of the man’s death on Saturday, Chatuchak District Director Chaowarit Songnawarat, said yesterday that he has now ordered officers to inspect all the camera poles in the area.

BMA has often come under fire for shoddy infrastructure maintenance in the capital.

In December, a man fell through an uncovered manhole near Chankasem University, leaving him with a large wound that needed more than 100 stitches. To much outcry on social media, the BMA refused to pay the victim’s medical bills, saying there is currently no regulation to support such compensation.

A taxi driver also died after falling into an uncovered manhole at a construction site in 2014. Police said BMA staff at the site neglected to cover the manhole, leading to the man’s death.


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