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Pattaya Daily News

28 September 2010 :: 18:09:32 pm 41302

20th Anniversary of Devastating Bangkok Gas Explosion

In 1990, a devastating accident involving a gas transport truck devastated 21 city blocks along the New Petchaburi Road in Bangkok, killing 59 civilians and injuring many more. Here we recount the news from that shocking event.
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The accident occurred on the 24th of September 1990, a typical Monday night in Bangkok, however, the following 24hrs, weeks and months were anything but for those involved. Now a little over 20 years since that tragic night, when a gas transport truck crashed causing widespread destruction and death, the people involved still remember the incident as if it was yesterday.

Witness accounts from the accident state that the driver of the Siam Gas Company (registration number 71-0415) truck, Mr. Sutat Fackaelek, had been speeding to avoid stopping at a set of traffic lights at the time of the accident. Turning at the busy intersection, with two 20,000-liter gas storage tanks on the rear of the truck, the vehicle reportedly tipped over before sliding a significant distance across the New Petchaburi Road.

The situation that followed saw the two, later found to be unsecured, gas cylinders come loose from the trucks tray, rolling across the road at speed due to momentum. One of the cylinders, made of iron, cracked in the process, releasing its contents, which were then ignited by sparks from the crash. The second cylinder exploded shortly after, spreading the destruction and resultant fire to the opposite side of the major road.

The explosions that followed devastated the busy intersection and surrounding city blocks, while fires in the area raged for over 24hrs before being fully contained. Several sources living in Bangkok at the time reported hearing the explosion from over 5km away, while the plumes of smoke and light of the blaze illuminated the night sky into the preceding day.

Fifty-nine people reportedly died in the accident, those nearest died instantly, while many others, including residents of the nearby buildings, died or were critically injured from the resultant fires that spread rapidly over 21-city blocks on both sides of the major road. Power was cut to the area for several days as electrical transformers and power lines were destroyed in the blazes, while numerous buildings and a homeless settlement were completely decimated in the incident. In total 43 cars and 4 motorbikes were destroyed, their explosions significantly aiding to the spread of the blaze and danger for attending fire crews.

Eventually fire crews, working around the clock and from many surrounding districts of Bangkok, were able to contain the blazes after over 24hrs of fighting. In a gruesome recount of events, emergency personnel recall pulling the deceased remains from the devastation; some burnt beyond recognition or turned to ash with only their personal effects remaining.

Resultant investigations from the incident, found the Siam Gas Company was liable in the accident along with the involved driver, who was subsequently found deceased at the scene. Reports state that the methods of securing the gas cylinders, without joints or fastening straps were the sole cause behind the cylinders becoming loose in the accident, while the speed and negligence of the driver was the stipulated reason behind the trucks initial crash.

Despite the lack of internet or even mobile phones at the time of this incident, the death, destruction and devastation was broadcast around the world via television media, leaving a marked impression of the lives of all that were involved with the accident, including this very journalist.

The shocking events from this day have since been captured in a film called “People Who Can See Ghosts”, directed by Oxide Pang Chun, a Hong Kong-based Chinese director. It was shown in 2002.

Reporter : Warina Punyawan   Category : Society

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