Owner Of Bombed Scrap Warehouse 'Still Missing'

(3 April) The death toll of huge explosion at an unregistered scrap yard in Bangkok suburb has risen to 8, while its owner remains missing, police have said.

The blast occurred yesterday at the scrap warehouse in Soi Lat Prakao 72 after its employees reportedly attempted to dismantle a WWII-era bomb with a gas-fueled cutter. The 230 kg bomb was said to have been unearthed by a group of construction workers in the vicinity.

Today Pol.Gen. Ake Angsananond, deputy chief of the Royal Thai Police, said 8 people have been killed by the explosion so far, with "dozens" more injured. He stressed that rescue workers are still searching for other possible survivors and dead bodies.

Pol.Col. Wirasak Foithong added that the deceased victims include one child who was reported missing by the parents. "We have gathered the body parts and determined that it was indeed the missing child" Pol.Col. Wirasak said. 

According to Pol.Col. Wirasak, the owner of the scrap yard, Ms. Euamphon Suebniam, is still missing. If found to be alive, Ms. Euamphon would likely face charges, as her warehouse was operating without proper a registration or permit from the district office, according to Mr. Sanya Chanrat, secretary to the Governor of Bangkok.

Mr. Sanya said the shop has been in service for over 10 years, but he offered no explanation as to why the authorities have not closed down the scrap yard earlier. 

Mr. Krit Kiatponchart, Bang Khen district director, said the Bang Khen police force will set up special posts for receiving complaints from the affected residents in the area, in order to allow the police to proceed with legal prosecution against the owner of the scrap yard. 

Over 30 houses have been damaged by the blast, Mr. Krit said, he went on to say it is too early to estimate a total cost of damage in the incident, but insisted that the authorities will provide financial support to those affected by the explosion. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Hiranwat Sopitseehasoop, the 40-year old leader of the construction worker team who found the explosive, told police that they unearthed the bomb when they attempted to drill into the ground for pillar construction. 

Mr. Hiranwat claimed he already suspected it was a bomb, so he photographed the device and instructed his workers not to move it, but the workers reportedly took the bomb away from the site and sold it to the scrap yard without his permission. 

A local resident, Ms. Chomechin Chantachart, claimed she witnessed the purchase at the scrap warehouse. According to Ms. Chomechin, the workers told her they believed it was a vintage defunct bomb, and agreed to sell it for 2,300 baht to the scrap yard owners.

The workers also jokingly suggested that she leave the area as the bomb might go off during the dismantling process, Ms. Chomechin added. She said the explosion occurred later when she went back to her residence. 

Officials believe the bomb was likely dropped from an Allied airplane during the Second World War, and originally possessed a blast radius of 500 metres, but the device had lost much of its power due to so many years having passed since it was produced. 

 

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