TICKER: 4 dead and at least 11 injured after lightning causes fire in Thai disco

Four people have died and at least 11 were seriously injured after a fire broke out in the early hours of this morning at a Thai nightclub.

Police are appealing for hotel owners to report any missing guests as they desperately try to identify the charred remains of the victims in the club on the holiday island of Phuket.

One of four people who died in the blaze is believed to be a French national but it cannot be confirmed because the only item identified was the man’s wristwatch.

A police source said the remaining victims were believed to be two Japanese men and a Thai ‘man or woman’. The officer was unwilling to confirm the Thai’s gender as the only evidence they had was a silicone breast implant and the area is known for having a high population of transsexual ‘lady boys’.

A Patong hospital spokesman said: ‘We cannot even tell whether the bodies are male or female.’

The fire in the Tiger Disco in Patong Beach, broke out nearly two hours after the club should have been legally closed.

The incident has hailed as the worst disco fire since the Santika Club in Bangkok burned down on New Year’s morning 2009 with 60 fatalities
The cause was initially put down to a lightning strike on a nearby electrical generator but there are reports also that electrical work had been carried out in the club earlier in the week and the explosion which a witness described as ‘sounding like a bomb’ actually took place in the club.

As officials in Patong counted the cost of this morning’s blaze, the club’s legal manager said that management would not shirk their responsibilities.

Of the injured four were French tourists who suffered burns and smoke inhalation in the worst disco fire since the Santika Club in Bangkok burned down on New Year’s morning 2009 with 60 fatalities.

Others were treated for minor injuries during the stampede to get out of the disco which was situated on the building’s second floor.

The club was however operating illegally by staying open beyond the official closing hour of 2 am. But that is not unusual in Phuket. Police turn a blind eye to local laws and accept payments for the service

Frenchman Benjamin Tallanotte, 30, who was treated for second degree burns to 40 percent of his body just repeated: ‘I don’t know what happened.’

Thai hotel worker Kanyaporn Kantong, 25, who was treated for burns at Patong Hospital, said:

‘Someone pushed me out the door. I owe them my life.’

‘I went there with two friends about 2.30am. We saw the smoke but I thought it was a disco special effect. Then I looked up at the disco ball and saw the flames.

‘We knew then that it was serious. I didn’t know which way to go. Luckily, someone pushed me in the right direction.’

Thamrongsak Boonrak, Legal Counsel for Tiger Discotheque said: ‘I have been told that lightning struck a transformer. The power shut down and came back on three times before staff heard an explosion. At first they thought it was a bomb.’

Daily Mail

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