A fire broke out in a crowded music bar in the eastern province of Chonburi early Friday morning and spread quickly, killing at least 13 people and injuring about 36 others, authorities said.
video The scene showed people fleeing from the burning building, some of them burning with their clothes.
Police said they are investigating the cause of the fire. They said the nightclub was built illegally, without a license in an area where no entertainment is allowed, as an addition to an existing restaurant.
Witnesses said the fire appeared to have started in the ceiling near the platform, and that they heard explosions immediately after it broke out.
Police were investigating reports that an emergency exit had been closed at the time of the fire. Local media reported. Some news outlets also reported that the fire was ignited by a sound-proofing material lining the walls.
One customer, who gave her name only as Nana, told local television station PPTV that she was sitting near the back of the bar when she first saw a spark near the ceiling above the podium, and that the fire quickly spread from there.
“I saw the flames above the platform, on the right side,” she said. The singer saw her on stage as well around the same time, and shouted ‘Fire! “And they threw the microphone at him.”
She and her friends said on their way to the door, they saw people’s clothes on fire. “I saw a lot of pub guards covered in flames inside.” She added that the pub only opened recently.
The nightclub, Mount B, is located in the Sattahip district at the southern tip of Chonburi Province, about 100 miles southeast of Bangkok. Police said all the victims were Thai citizens.
Pictures of the pub taken after the fire showed a charred stage, sound equipment, a floor covered in ash and water, and the remains of tables and chairs.
The fatal incident comes as Thailand is trying to revive its tourism industry. The tourism sector is a major contributor to the national economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and only recently started to attract large numbers of international visitors.
The blaze is reminiscent of a deadly fire that engulfed Bangkok’s upscale Santika nightclub as the New Year began in 2009. The fire, which may have started with fireworks, killed 66 people, many of them foreigners, and injured more than 200.
Richard C. Paddock reported from Bangkok, and Mukita Suhartono From Jakarta, Indonesia.