Sri Racha 'danger zone' after ship bursts into flames

Sri Racha 'danger zone' after ship bursts into flames

130 people treated for skin and eye irritation after container explodes

Thick black smoke billows from a cargo ship at Laem Chabang port in Sri Racha at dawn on Saturday. At least 50 people, mostly crew members working in the area, developed skin and eye trouble and were treated at hospital. (Photo by Trinai Jansrichol)
Thick black smoke billows from a cargo ship at Laem Chabang port in Sri Racha at dawn on Saturday. At least 50 people, mostly crew members working in the area, developed skin and eye trouble and were treated at hospital. (Photo by Trinai Jansrichol)

CHON BURI: Sri Racha district has been declared a danger zone after a large cargo ship burst into flames following a loud bang from one of its containers at Laem Chabang port around dawn, resulting in dozens of people being treated in hospital.

More than 130 people were taken to hospital, some complaining of irritation in the eyes and throat, others of a burning sensation on the skin, but there were no major injuries, according to the Ministry of Public Health

The fire erupted around 6.45am on the South Korean container ship KMTC Hongkong, which was moored at terminal A2 in tambon Thung Sukhla on Saturday morning, Laem Chabang port chief Lt Jg Yutthana Mokkhao said.

More than 10 fire trucks, firefighters and rescue workers rushed to the port to douse the flames, which were engulfing containers on the cargo ship.

Red flames and clouds of thick black and white smoke poured out of the ship throughout the morning and early afternoon before the fire was brought under control.

Initial checks showed the blaze broke out in a load of cargo containing the chemical calcium hypochlorite, he said. “We closed the pier where the fire broke out and two others that were affected by the fire.”

Calcium hypochlorite is the main active ingredient of commercial bleaching powder, chlorine powder or chlorinated lime, used for water treatment and as a bleaching agent.

Sri Racha municipality has declared the district a dangerous zone, said Lt Jg Yutthana.

Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) director-general Kamolsak Promprayoon said forensic police, port officials and the owner of the ship would jointly investigate the incident.

Dr Witthaya Chokchaipaisarn, of Queen Savang Vadhana Memorial Hospital in Sri Racha, said at least 40 people sought treatment for burns and eye irritation at the hospital, which had set up a tent to take in patients.

Thongsuk Chantasorn, 63, head of the crew at another ship, told Thai media that he heard a loud bang and saw a container blown up into the sky with black thick smoke. More loud explosions followed. White rubber scraps were scattered over the areas. Workers who were exposed to them developed skin burns, he said.

Affected people receive treatment for skin burns and eye irritation at a local hospital after a container exploded on a ship at Laem Chabang Port on Saturday. (Photo by Trinai Jansrichol)



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