6 more bodies found after tanker fire

6 more bodies found after tanker fire

Marine Department to investigate blast

The bodies of six more workers killed by an explosion and fire aboard an oil tanker at a dockyard on the Mae Klong River on Tuesday were found yesterday.

The explosion occurred about 9.25am on Tuesday while the Smooth Sea 22 tanker was moored for annual maintenance at Ruammitr Dockyard in tambon Laem Yai, Muang district.

At the time, 27 dock workers were on board or near the vessel. Many were initially reported missing, but most were later accounted for.

A search was launched involving rescuers from several foundations. Two charred bodies were found on Tuesday.

At 9.10am yesterday a third body was found in the river and brought ashore at Wat Pak Samut pier, taking the number of those confirmed killed to three. Later, the bodies of five more workers were found.

Polaseth Laohakanvanich, leader of a rescue team, confirmed eight workers in total had been found dead.

He said four other workers were injured. Two of those killed were workers from Myanmar, who were identified only as Thui and Ako.

The search team also found a severed right ankle. It was not known whose body it came from.

Sorapong Paithoonpong, deputy permanent secretary for transport, said the Marine Department would investigate the explosion and consider compensation for those people affected by the blast.

Puripat Teerakulpisuth, deputy director-general of the Marine Department, said he has set up a committee to investigate and its findings are expected in 10 days.

The tanker's crew, safety officers from Ruammitr Dockyard and others will be questioned.

The Smooth Sea 22 tanker is covered by insurance policies with two companies -- H & M and P & I Club. The policy with H & M is for 60 million baht and is valid until March 26. The other, with P & I Club, provides coverage of US$1 billion and is valid until Feb 20.

The Marine Department will consult the company, Smooth Sea, and agencies in Samut Songkhram regarding compensation for the injured and families of those killed, as well as other people affected by the explosion.

Houses on both sides of the river were damaged by flying debris and the shockwave from the blast.

Samut Songkhram governor Somnuek Promkhieo said he had assigned the Laem Yai tambon administrative organisation to set up a complaints centre at Wat Pak Samut in tambon Laem Yai, where people can register for compensation.

About 60 houses in tambon Laem Yai and 11 in tambon Bang Chakreng, Muang district, were initially found to have been damaged, Mr Somnuek said.

Mr Samran Nutarak, 68, a resident of Laem Yai district whose house is 700 metres away from the oil tanker, said his ceiling had caved in and windows shattered due to the blast, while a nearby couple, Mr Wasugree and Ms Pairin Duangkamnerd, said their dog had died from shock following the sound of the blast.

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