Government response to the disaster has been quick and effective but the utter devastation suffered by the local community is sobering and re-building represents a significant challenge. The permanent secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Mongkhonchai Samudon was in Sungai Kolok on Monday.
Authorities in the southern province of Narathiwat have issued arrest warrants for the owners of a trading centre which stored fireworks for resale and exploded on Saturday at 3 pm killing 12 people and destroying 300 houses and premises in the Muno Market area of Muno subdistrict in the Sungai Kolok district of the province bordering Malaysia. Over 108 people were admitted to hospital but currently, only 10 are being held with physical injuries requiring medical supervision. The arrest warrants are effective from Tuesday, August 1st and call on the owners of the local business to present themselves before the court to answer charges after a police investigation was opened on Saturday on the instructions of National Police Chief General Damrongsak Kittiprapas.
A task force in Narathiwat province, where last Saturday saw a massive fireworks explosion, on Monday, revealed that arrest warrants have been issued for the owners of the business premises at the heart of the disaster after its stock of commercial fireworks exploded during a welding accident linked with the refurbishment of the grocery and general provisions store.
Since Saturday, the death toll in the incident has risen to 12 with over 100 injuries reported while the number of homes and premises destroyed in the massive explosion has now risen to 300.
Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office in Sungai Kolok to represent the Prime Minister in ensuring an effective response to the disaster
The scale of the local disaster is vast.
On Monday, speaking to the press, the commander of a police task force Major General Chalermporn Khamkhiao gave details of arrest warrants which are to be issued dated August 1st, 2023.
They call upon the owners of the premises to present themselves so that they can be brought before the court to acknowledge charges caused by the incident.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Mongkhonchai Samudon, has travelled to Sungai Kolok District in Narathiwat, on the border with Malaysia to represent Prime Minister Prayut Chan Ocha who has pledged the full support of the government to the local population.
At Monday’s briefing for the media, the Governor of Narathiwat Province, Mr Sanan Phong-aksorn also attended.
Medical support for those injured or traumatised by the massive explosion which destroyed a busy market area with 12 dead and 108 injured on Saturday
The government has provided support facilities for those who have been made homeless as a result of the disaster and on Sunday, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, confirmed that he had spoken with the Minister of Public Health, Deputy Prime Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul to brief him about the situation in the southern province.
An emergency shelter and Royal Kitchen to provide food have also been opened.
The situation was being monitored closely with instructions to send medical personnel to attend to those with physical and mental injuries from the explosion.
Up to four hospitals in the Sungai Kolok district have dealt with 108 admissions from the disaster.
The latest reports suggest that 98 of those injured have already been sent home, with 10 cases still being treated in hospital involving two men, six women and two children.
The injured people are reported to have suffered serious wounds to the head, face and body and required continuous medical supervision.
A major setback to a busy trading centre
The scale of the property damage suffered in the area is seen as a major setback for what was up until Saturday a key trading centre which facilitated cross-border trade with Malaysia.
In addition to the 300 homes and premises destroyed, there is also widespread destruction to cars, vehicles and other equipment used by locals to pursue their livelihood.
On Sunday, Dr Opas said that officials were particularly concerned for the mental health of the people in the area destroyed and razed to the ground almost instantaneously.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the Commander of Provincial Police Region 9, Police Lieutenant General Nantadej Yoonuan opened up an extensive investigation into the cause of the disaster while instructing police forces in the region to assist the local population in recovery efforts.
Police response includes an investigation into the explosion and preventative measures locally and nationally after last week’s incident in Chiang Mai
Police at a national level have also ordered a review of all premises and establishments in the Kingdom associated with fireworks or explosive materials to ensure no further incidents.
Reports have noted that the incident on Saturday came just days after a similar explosion in Chiang Mai province, in which no one was seriously injured or killed but which locals, including foreigners living in the area, reported as similar to a minor earthquake.
The local police commander in Narathiwat, Police Major General Anurut Im-arb has also called on the public to report any other centres in the province where fireworks are being stored or are for sale.
In particular, he urged the public to report if they are concerned in any way about the safety of such premises.