Tragedy repeats

It is unfortunate that history repeats itself with such similar conditions. Bringing pyrotechnics display into a nightclub has claimed lives on more than one occasion. It does not matter what country it happens, the deadly results are the consistent.

In 2003 in the United States a tragic fire took many lives as a pyrotechnics display on stage ignited sound insulating foam on stage.

WEST WARWICK, R.I. _ In this tightknit old mill town in a postage stamp-sized state, residents are staying close to their telephones, nursing beers in bars and flipping through their high school yearbooks.

Now that a soaking rain has snuffed out the last plume of smoke from the nightclub fire that killed 96 people Thursday and injured another 187, there is little to do but wait.

Teams of forensic scientists are busy matching dental records to bodies pulled from the rubble, almost all of them burned beyond recognition.

Only then will the toll for this town of 29,000 southwest of Providence be known, for the names of the dead concertgoers will be friends, in-laws, church members, kindergarten classmates and local auto mechanics. Nearly everyone here will have known someone who didn’t escape from the inferno that broke out just moments into the 1980s band Great White’s concert at The Station, a West Warwick institution and the town’s only nightclub.

The blaze was ignited by a pyrotechnics display.

Then moments into 2009, Bangkok experienced a similar tragedy.

Fire at an Ekkamai pub kills at least 59 and injures scores in New Year countdown disaster

Fire broke out at popular Santika Pub in Ekkamai Soi 9 (Sukhumvit 63) Wednesday night, killing nearly 60 people celebrating the New Year countdown and injuring more than 200 others, police said.

Deputy Police Commissioner-General Pol Lt-Gen Jongrak Juthanon said many of those killed and injured were foreigners. He said they were tourists from Nepal, Austria and Japan.

However, there were about 30 bodies that were “very difficult to idenfity”. All bodies were initially sent to the Chulalongkorn Hospital but forensic officials were overwhelmed with the task and help was being sought from the Police Hospital.

TV Channel 7 reported that at least 59 people were killed and more than 200 injured.

TV footages showed the entire three-storey structure, which covered hundreds of squaremetres, on fire. Tearful revellers were being comforted by friends.

Firemen were alerted shortly after midnight but when they arrived at the three-story building, pandemonium was already breaking out with hundreds of people scrambling for their lives. Charity foundations’ workers were trying to bring New Year celebrators out the narrow front door one by one.

A lot of people remained trapped inside the most popular pub in the area when the firemen arrived, screaming for help.

It took two hours to bring the blaze under control. Police said at least 54 people were killed and scores were injured.

It was believed hundreds were inside the popular pub. Some pub workers told police that the fire was likely caused by firework explosions which set alight the publ’s interior which housed many inflammable materials.

One pub worker told reporters that the explosions were heard shortly after the New Year countdown ended. “After the explosions, someone shouted ‘Fire!”,” the pub worker said.

Fire started on the top floor and spread quckly, the pub worker said. The quick smoke caused immediate panic, sending people scrambling to the front door where they had come in. Most of them were unaware there were three other exits, the pub worker said.

The exact number of people injured remained unknown. Many have been sent to 14 hospitals including Ramkhamhaeng, Bangkok, Kluaynam Thai 2, Vipa-Ram hospitals.

The pub worker said up to 1,000 people could have been inside when the fire broke out.

One man, Somchai Frendi, who was inside the pub when the fire broke out, said the blaze was caused by a “special-effect” firework to usher in the New Year. It made the ceiling, which was made largely of inflammable sound-proof materials, catch fire which spread very quickly.

The fire and smoke sent people on the second floor scrambling downstairs while those on the ground floor also rushed for the door. But with most people knowing only one exit _ through which they had come in _ they crammed the space and the results were deadly.

The pub’s promotion poster called the New Year Party “Goodbye Santika”, apparently because the pub owner was planning to move to a new venue as the lease on the property could not be extended.

Those who died either suffered severe burns or were suffocated by smoke, police said.

Police Commissioner-General Pol Gen Phatcharawat Wongsuwan Thursday ruled out arson, saying nobody would have intended to cause so huge casualties. Deputy police chief Jongrak said one of the owners of the pub was also injured in the incident.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said there did not seem to be legal questions regarding the construction of the pub.

Those who used to go to the pub were engaged in heated discussions in various web boards and some of the debates were focused on the narrow entrances and exits or Santika and other similar pubs.

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