Negligence suspected in SCB gas leak, arrest warrants issued (Updated)

Negligence suspected in SCB gas leak, arrest warrants issued (Updated)

Top city police officers inspect the accident site with bank officials. METROPOLITAN POLICE BUREAU photo
Top city police officers inspect the accident site with bank officials. METROPOLITAN POLICE BUREAU photo

Police have cited negligence as one possible cause of a deadly accident at the head office of Siam Commercial Bank in the capital on Sunday night. Meanwhile, two arrest warrants have been approved

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Tuesday updates


The Criminal Court has approved warrants for the arrest of two people contracted to upgrade the fire suppression system of the Siam Commercial Bank's head office in Bangkok, Metropolitan Police acting chief Pol Lt Gen Sanit Mahathaworn said on Tuesday.

During the installation work there was a leak of fire-retardant chemicals that killed eight people and hospitalised seven others on Sunday night.

Pol Lt Gen Sanit said the two contractors would be charged with carelessness causing death and injuries.

He believed the two would report to Phahon Yothin police on Tuesday morning to hear the charges and be questioned.

Police would today continue compiling evidence to support applications for court warrants to arrest other people who were also involved, he added.

Language note. The accident happened in the past, but will still don't now the exact cause. As you read, notice the verb forms used when speculating about the case, e.g., may have triggered, might have activated, could have caused.

Today's audio can be found at the bottom of the page.

Police focus on negligence in bank gas leak

Bank faults contractors for 8 head office deaths

Post Reporters

Police have cited negligence as one possible cause of a deadly accident at the head office of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) in the capital on Sunday night.

Eight people died and seven were injured after a fire extinguishing device released pyrogen aerosol gas in a document security vault in the basement of SCB Park Building on Ratchadaphisek Road. The chemical is intended to deplete oxygen, which possibly caused their deaths.

Five died at the scene and three others later died in hospital. Of the eight fatalities, seven were employees and one was a security guard.

A relatives weeps at the Police General Hospital's Institute of Forensic Medicine after identifying one of eight people killed. SCB said it will offer the families of the dead victims 100,000 baht each, and provide 30,000 baht to help the injured. APICHART JINALUL

The accident occurred about 9.30pm in the basement of SCB's head office as the employees were working to improve the building's chemical fire extinguishing system.

Pol Maj Gen Charoen Srisasalak, chief of Metropolitan Police Division 2, said Phahon Yothin police had questioned 10 people yesterday – three SCB employees who were at the scene on Sunday night, and seven relatives of the dead victims.

Investigators reported that Mega Planet Co had been contracted to instal the fire prevention system, but another company was subcontracted to complete the work.

The sub-contractor, building designers and safety engineers would also be summoned to testify. He said police will spend about a week gathering evidence before they can establish the cause of the accident.

SCB blamed the accident on the contractors, who had been working to upgrade the building's chemical fire-extinguisher system but mistakenly set it off, releasing a chemical retardant designed to starve any fire of oxygen. "The work may have triggered the pyrogen aerosol which, once it works, will decrease oxygen. That could have caused people's injuries and deaths," the bank said in a statement.

SCB president Yon Phokhasap said the building and other property sustained no damage, adding that an upgrade to the fire extinguishing system is under way, changing from the pyrogen-based system to a nitrogen-based one.

Speaking after inspecting the scene, Pol Lt Col Bundit Pradabsook, vice-president of the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage, said that workers may have drilled into the concrete wall releasing dust particles during the upgrade work, which might have activated a smoke detection sensor and then set off the pyrogen aerosol. This system is highly sensitive to small dust particles, apart from smoke, he said.

Suchatvee Suwansawat, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT), raised three questions after inspecting the scene.

"Why did the fire extinguishing system operate without a fire? Why could the victims not leave the room? And why did it cause deaths when the device producer claims on its website the chemical is not severely toxic and will not eliminate oxygen?" he said.

A fire fighting expert said dust normally does not activate the extinguishing system unless the system itself is faulty. Fire prevention and extinguishing technology which uses pyrogen is very advanced. But it is far more costly to instal than a normal fire hydrant system.

The benefit of the pyrogen-deploying system is that it is an effective and less messy method of dousing fires in a tightly-contained environment, such as a document storage room. It does not cause damage to documents, which commonly occurs with the use of water, according to the expert.

But pyrogen technology can be deadly if people who come into contact with the system, including rescuers, do not know enough about how it works. Rescuers who access a pyrogen-exposed chamber must be equipped with oxygen-supplement tanks.

Monday's story

A shocked fireman relays information from the scene. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SALKOLNAKORN

Update: Earlier many sources were quoting the Erawan Emergency Centre as saying 10 had died and seven were injured. By mid-morning that has been revised downward to eight dead and seven injured.

8 killed in SCB fire system improvement fault

Online reporters

An upgrade to fire prevention went horribly wrong at the headquarters of Siam Commercial Bank Sunday night, and eight people died when chemicals sucked oxygen from the building.

Firemen responding to the alarm were delayed in breaking in while they conducted tests to try to find out if there was a fire but they detected no heat.

Reports said there was smoke coming from the basement of the low-rise building at around 9.30pm Sunday. A bank statement said there was no fire or explosion.

Initial reports said eight people died at the scene and seven were taken to hospitals.

Bodies of victims are laid out in front of the building.

Firemen said when they finally began breaking into the bank building, they found tightly locked doors. They managed to rescue three people on the ground floor but could not access either the basement or first floor.

Within 20 minutes, firemen had pulled out three unconscious victims of the fire retardant, as well as the bodies of a woman and two men already overcome.

Other bodies were found in the next 20 minutes

Fireman leave the building last night.

According to an official statement by SCB, this was "an accident caused by the negligence of the contractor hired to improve fire protection in the building". It gave no further details.

The statement said "gas pyrogens opened" and released the fire retardant. "This caused injuries and deaths", the statement said.

The bank issued a press release late Sunday night, saying there was no fire or explosion, so all banking offices would be open on Monday as usual.

The statement added condolences for the victims. The bank's chief executive will hold a press conference on the incident Monday morning.

Learn from listening

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  • access: to enter a building or place - เข้าสู่
  • acting: doing the work of the usual person in a particular job while they are not there, or until a new person starts - ที่รักษาการแทน
  • activate: to make something such as a device or chemical process start working - กระตุ้น, ทำให้เกิดปฏิกริยาตอบสนอง
  • advanced (adj): having the most modern and recently developed ideas, methods, etc - ก้าวหน้า, สมัยใหม่
  • aerosol (noun): a liquid such as paint or hairspray is kept under pressure and released as a spray - ละอองของเหลว
  • alarm: a loud noise or a signal that warns people of danger or of a problem - สัญญาณเตือนภัย
  • application (noun): a formal request for permission to do or have something; a piece of paper used to apply for something - การสมัคร, การขอ, ใบสมัคร
  • architect: a person whose job is to design new buildings and make certain that they are built correctly - สถาปนิก
  • arrest: (of the police) taking someone to a police station because they are believed to have committed a crime - การจับกุม
  • as usual (idiom): in the same way as what happens most of the time or in most cases - โดยปกติ, ตามปกติ, ตามธรรมดา
  • association: an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose - สมาคม
  • basement: the part of a building that is partly or completely below the level of the ground - ห้องใต้ดิน
  • benefit: an advantage you get from a situation; a helpful or good effect, or something intended to help - ผลประโยชน์, ข้อได้เปรียบ, ผลดี
  • carelessness: not giving enough attention and thought to what you are doing, so that you make mistakes - ความไม่ระมัดระวัง
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี
  • chamber: a room used for the particular purpose - ห้อง, ห้องผู้พิพากษา, ห้องสำนักงานทนายความ
  • charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • chief executive: the person with the highest rank in a company or an organisation - ผู้บริหารสูงสุด
  • cited: mentioned as an example, explanation or proof of something else - อ้าง, กล่าวอ้าง
  • compile: to collect information from different places and arrange it in a book, report or list - รวบรวม
  • condolences (noun): sympathy that you feel for somebody when a person in their family or that they know well has died; an expression of this sympathy - การแสดงความเสียใจต่อผู้อื่น
  • conduct: to carry out — - ดำเนิน
  • contracted (verb): paid to do work for another person, organisation, company, etc. รับเหมา - รับเหมา
  • contractor: a person or company whose job is to do work for another person, organisation, company, etc. - ผู้รับเหมา
  • costly (adj): expensive; costing a lot of money, especially more than you want to pay - แพง, ราคาสูง
  • Criminal Court: a court which hears criminal cases, i.e., cases where people are accused of breaking a law and where punishment involves going to jail. - ศาลอาญา
  • deadly (adj): causing or likely to cause death - เป็นอันตรายถึงตายได้
  • decrease: to make or become less - ลดลง, น้อยลง
  • delay: to not do something until a later time or to make something happen at a later time - ทำให้ช้า, ทำให้หยุดยั้ง, ทำให้เสียเวลา, เลื่อน
  • deplete: to reduce something by a large amount so that there is not enough left - ทำให้หมดสิ้นหรือลดน้อยลงมาก
  • deploy: to put in place ready for use - นำมาใช้
  • details: small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation - รายละเอียด
  • detect: to notice, to discover or find out - พบได้, สังเกต
  • detection: the process of proving that something is present or how something has happened using scientific methods - การพบ,การสืบหา,การตรวจพบ
  • device (noun): a machine or piece of equipment that does a particular job - อุปกรณ์ เครื่องมือ เครื่องจักร
  • document: a paper or set of papers with written or printed information, especially of an official type  - เอกสาร
  • douse (verb): to pour a lot of liquid over somebody/something; to soak somebody/something in liquid สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว - สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของเหลว
  • drill (verb): to make a hole using a drill - เจาะรู
  • dust: very small pieces of dirt that cover surfaces inside buildings like a powder - ฝุ่น
  • effective: producing the result that was intended - ได้ผลดี
  • eliminate: to get rid of - กำจัด ลดตำแหน่งงาน
  • emergency: an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary - เหตุฉุกเฉิน
  • employee: someone who is paid regularly to work for a person or an organisation - ลูกจ้าง
  • engineer (noun): a person whose job involves designing and building engines, machines, roads, bridges, etc. - วิศวกร
  • environment: the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them - สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
  • equipped: having what is necessary to do something - ครบครัน, ซึ่งมีเครื่องประกอบพร้อม
  • establish: to discover, prove, or decide that something is true - พิสูจน์, แสดงให้เห็น
  • evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
  • explosion (noun): the sudden violent bursting and loud noise of something such as a bomb exploding; the act of deliberately causing something to explode - การระเบิด
  • exposed: not protected and in direct contact with something harmful - ได้รับสารผิด
  • extinguish: to put out a fire - ดับไฟ
  • fatality: a death caused by an illness, accident, crime or war - การเสียชีวิต
  • fault: something that is wrong or not perfect; something that is wrong with a machine or system that stops it from working correctly - ข้อผิดพลาด, ข้อบกพร่อง
  • faulty: not perfectly made or not working correctly - ซึ่งมีข้อผิดพลาด
  • focus: to give attention, effort, etc. to one particular subject, situation or person rather than another - เพ่งความสนใจ
  • forensic medicine: the use of scientific methods to find out about how someone died, etc. - นิติเวชศาสตร์
  • headquarters: the place where an organisation or company has its main offices - สำนักงานใหญ่ กองบัญชาการ
  • horribly (adverb): in a very bad way, fearfully, frightfully, - อย่างน่าเกลียดน่ากลัว, อย่างน่าสยองขวัญ
  • hydrant: an upright water pipe in the street that the fire service gets water from - หัวก้อนน้ำประปาสาธารณะ
  • identify: to specify who someone is - ระบุชื่อ
  • improve: to make better - ทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • improvement: when something gets better or when you make it better - การปรับปรุง, การทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • incident: something that happens, usually something bad - เหตุการณ์
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • injured (adj): hurt in an accident, natural disaster, attack, etc. - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • inspect: to look at something carefully - ตรวจสอบ, ตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
  • investigator: someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something - ผู้สอบสวน, ผู้สำรวจ, ผู้ตรวจสอบ
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • issue: to announce something officially - ออกประกาศ
  • locked (verb): fastened with a lock; prevented from going somewhere - ล๊อค, ปิดกั้น
  • messy (adj): dirty and/or untidy - ซึ่งไม่เป็นระเบียบ, ซึ่งไม่เรียบร้อยและสกปรก
  • method: a particular way of doing something - วิธีการ,วิธีดำเนินการ
  • metropolitan police: the police in responsible for a city - ตำรวจนครบาล
  • negligence: when you do not give enough care or attention to someone or something - ความประมาท, ความไม่เอาใจใส่
  • normally: usually; in normal circumstances - โดยปกติ, ตามปกติ
  • operate: to work in a particular way - ปฏิบัติงาน,
  • overcome (verb): to be extremely strongly affected by something - ทำให้หมดกำลัง
  • particle: an extremely small piece or amount of something - ฝุ่นละอองขนาดเล็ก
  • patronage: a system of help or protection given to people, often in return for their support   - ระบบอุปถัมภ์
  • press conference: an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
  • press release: a public statement given to the press to publish if they wish - ข้อมูลที่เตรียมทำเป็นข่าว
  • prevention: the act of preventing something, or things that people do in order to prevent something - การป้องกัน
  • pyrogens (noun): substances used to put out fires -
  • quote: to repeat the words that someone else has said or written - ยกคำพูดมา
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • release (verb): to let something move freely; to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere - ปล่อย
  • rescue: to save a person or animal from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - ช่วยชีวิต
  • rescuer: a person whose job is to save someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - ผู้ช่วยชีวิต
  • retardant (noun): a substance that slows down a chemical reaction, esp. a fire - แก๊สดับเพลิง; สารที่ทำให้ปฏิกิริยาทางเคมีช้าลง
  • revise: to change, improve, or make additions to something - แก้ไข
  • scene: site; a place where something happens or happened - สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
  • security: protection; systems providing for safety from attack, harm, or damage - ระบบรักษาความปลอดภัย
  • security guard (noun): a person who checks people's bags or watches over a building at night to make things safe - ยาม, คนเฝ้าสถานที่ หรือระวังเหตุการณ์ตามกำหนดเวลา; ผู้เฝ้าประตู, บุคคลที่คอยมุ่งเอาใจใส่หรือดูแลการเข้า-ออกของผู้คนอยู่ที่ประตู
  • sensitive (adj.): able to measure or react to very small changes - ซึ่งไวต่อสิ่งกระตุ้น
  • sensor: a device that can react to light, heat, pressure, etc. in order to make a machine, etc. do something or show something - อุปกรณ์ส่งสัญญาณที่ไวต่อแสงหรืออุณหภูมิ, ตัวเซ็นเซอร์
  • severely: very seriously - อย่างรุนแรง
  • source: someone who gives information - แหล่งข่าว
  • speculate: to consider or discuss what might happen or might have happened - คาดการณ์ อนุมาน
  • starve (verb): to not give something that is needed - ทำให้อดอยาก
  • statement: a formal written/spoken account of events that a person who has seen a crime or who has been accused of a crime gives to the police - คำให้การ
  • storage: the putting and keeping of things in a special place for use in the future - การเก็บ
  • subcontract: to pay someone else to do your work - สัญญารับจ้างช่วง
  • suck: to pull somebody/something with great force in a particular direction - ดูด
  • summoned (verb): officially ordered someone to come to a place, especially a court of law or a police station - ถูกเรียกตัว
  • supplement (noun): a thing that is added to something else to improve or complete it - ส่วนเพิ่มเติม, ส่วนเสริม
  • suppression (noun): preventing something from growing, developing or continuing - การขจัด, การหยุดยั้ง
  • sustain: to experience, injury, damage, loss, etc. - ประสบกับ (ความสูญเสีย การเจ็บป่วย)
  • testify: to make a statement about something that you saw, know, or experienced, usually in a court of law or an official investigation - ให้การเป็นพยาน
  • toxic: poisonous and harmful to people, animals or the environment - เป็นพิษ
  • trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
  • unconscious : in a sleeplike condition, usually from an illness or injury - หมดสติ
  • under way (adj): happening now, currently happening - กำลังดำเนินต่อไป
  • upgrade (noun): something that improves the quality or usefulness of a computer, a machine or a system - การยกระดับ, การพัฒนาให้ดีขึ้น
  • vault: a room, especially in a bank, with thick walls and a strong door, which is used to store money or valuable things in safe conditions - ห้องเก็บเงินในธนาคาร
  • victim: someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as a disaster, illness or an accident - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
  • warrant (noun): a legal document that is signed by a judge and gives the police authority to do something - หมาย
  • weep: to cry because you feel unhappy or have some other strong emotion - ร้องไห้
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