Overseers of Collapsed Building Flee Charges, Deny Responsibility

A soldier and dog search for bodies trapped beneath collapsed building in Pathum Thani, which has killed 10 people so far, August 13 2014.

PATHUM THANI — As police investigate the cause of a collapsed construction site that killed at least 10 workers over the weekend, the project's overseers have either fled their charges or denied responsibility for the fatal collapse.

The six-floor residential building in Thanyaburi district collapsed on 11 August, trapping dozens of workers under its rubble. The project, named U Place, was commissioned by U Guest Condo company and constructed by Plook Plang company.

The police filed arrest warrants for six of the project's managers shortly after the collapse, including Pensri Kittipaisarnnon, project commissioner; Boonyakorn Heebthong, an executive of U Place company; Chanaichol Kerdthes, owner of Plook Plang construction company; Saksith Intarathong, engineer and building planner; Jira Khanman, engineer; and Diew Plabchone, contractor.

The suspects have been charged with reckless action that led to injuries and deaths of other people. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison and a 20,000 baht fine.

Ms. Pensri, Mr. Saksith, and Mr. Diew surrendered themselves to the police yesterday, but police say Mr. Boonyakorn and Mr. Jira are still at large, while Mr. Chanaichol has already fled to Cambodia to escape the charge. 

At a police press conference yesterday, Mr. Saksith, the building’s planner and engineer, blamed  the contractor, Mr. Diew, for pouring concrete into the building’s structure without his consent. 

According to Mr. Saksith, he specifically told Mr. Diew not to add any concrete before he personally inspected the site. As it was a holiday weekend for National Mother’s Day, Mr. Saksith did not visit the site on the day the building collapsed, he said.

However, Mr. Diew told police he was away from the construction site "for personal business" when the building collapsed and did not give any orders to pour more concrete into the structure either. Mr. Diew claimed a leading worker decided to add 40 cubic of concrete on his own volition, which led to the collapse.

Mr. Diew did not identify the worker by his real name; he said he only knew his nickname, "Kob."

Ms. Pensri, the U Place project commissioner who applied for a license for the construction, said tearfully that she was very sorry about the incident.

"I didn't want any losses to happen at all," Ms. Pensri said. "If I could die instead, I would."

She also promised to compensate and assist the families of the dead and injured. As for the criminal charges against her, Ms. Pensri said she would only give testimony in court. 

The police have filed additional arrest warrants for three other suspects who have not turned themselves in, said Pol.Maj.Gen. Sriwara Rangsibrahmakul, deputy commander of Region 1 Provincial Police. 

 

 

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