80,000 impacted by huge blaze
At least 80,000 people have been affected by a massive fire that ravaged the Ming Dih Chemical Co factory complex in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan on Monday.
The blaze was brought under control briefly on Tuesday only to reignite amid the charred ruins of the factory on Tuesday around 4pm, prompting firefighters to spray flame retardant foam in an attempt to control the latest blaze.
Overall, firefighters took more than 24 hours to douse the fire that followed an explosion around 3am on Monday.
They earlier announced the fire was under control at 5am on Tuesday.
One rescue worker was killed while battling the inferno and 40 others were injured including firefighters.
Provincial governor Wanchai Kongkasem on Tuesday said that the damage from the fire spanned a vast radius around the burned-out factory, causing damage to private property and affecting 80,916 people across four tambons in Bang Phli district.
Of the total, 34,736 people in 22,563 households were impacted in tambon Racha Thewa, 18,490 people in 12,363 households in tambon Bang Phli Yai, 23,277 people in 17,188 households in tambon Bang Kaew and 4,413 people in 4,177 households in tambon Bang Chalong.
The explosion and the fire forced the evacuation of 1,992 residents living within a 5-km radius of the factory.
Some of those affected took refuge at one of eight emergency shelters.
Pol Maj Gen Chumphon Phumphuang, chief of Samut Prakan provincial police, said 183 people have so far filed complaints of damage against the company.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said the Pollution Control Department needs to ensure the air quality within 3-5km from the fire-gutted factory is safe before residents in the areas were allowed to return home.
An initial inspection showed that the air quality within one kilometre of the site was harmful to health on Tuesday.
Mr Varawut also noted the factory opened three decades when there was no environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulation in place.
The area will also be inspected as to whether it was originally designated for commercial or residential purposes, he added.
Meanwhile, Ming Dih Chemical Co has issued a statement expressing its profound regrets over the incident and pledged to offer compensation for all the damage that occurred.