BANGKOK, Thailand – A devastating explosion at a fireworks factory in central Thailand has claimed the lives of at least 23 people, according to a rescue worker on Wednesday. The exact number of casualties was not immediately confirmed, but rescue worker Kritsada Manee-In estimated that around 23 people had lost their lives. Local media reports provided varying death tolls.
Pictures shared by local rescue workers in Suphan Buri province showed the aftermath of the explosion, leaving the site leveled in an otherwise empty rice field, strewn with debris and body parts.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately determined, but the incident occurred just weeks before the Chinese New Year in February, a period of strong demand for fireworks.
This is not the first time such a tragedy has struck Thailand. In July of last year, a large explosion at a fireworks warehouse in southern Thailand resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people and injuries to over 100 individuals, according to officials. The explosion in Narathiwat province occurred in a residential area, causing damage to around 100 houses within a radius of about 500 meters, as reported by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
The governor of Narathiwat stated that the blast was likely sparked by construction work inside the warehouse, with sparks from metal welding igniting the fireworks stored within and causing the devastating explosion. Such incidents continue to raise concerns about safety standards and regulations within the fireworks industry in Thailand.