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One dead as guests flee Bangkok hotel blaze

Published: March 9, 2012 | 8:58 am
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BANGKOK — A fire at a major tourist hotel in Bangkok killed one foreigner and injured about 20 others, as rescue workers used cranes to pluck guests from the smoke-filled building, officials said Friday.
Firefighters rushed to the scene after the blaze broke out in a function room at the 221-room Grand Park Avenue Hotel off the Sukhumvit Road in the Thai capital on Thursday evening.
“A female foreign tourist died from suffocation,” said Suvinai Busrakamwongs, director of the Kluay Nam Thai hospital.
The victim’s nationality was unknown because she had no identification and nobody came forward to identify her, he said.
“Another male Western tourist is in intensive care,” Suvinai added.
The man was unconscious and his condition was worsening, the hospital said.
Several foreigners wearing oxygen masks were seen being carried out of the hotel on stretchers late Thursday as crowds gathered to watch the blaze in a popular tourist district of the city.
Emergency services said about 20 people suffered smoke inhalation in the fire, which was later extinguished.
“People used flashlights to show us where they were,” volunteer rescue worker Surapon Poonkate of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation told AFP.
“Most of the guests ran up to the top of the building but we couldn’t reach them there. The crane could go only up to the 6th and 7th floors. So we moved them out through those two floors,” he said.
“After we took the people out, we searched through the floors, and found two foreigners, one woman and one man, unconscious on the 7th floor. So we took them down and sent them to hospital.”
The injured included 14 Russians, one Briton, two Thais and one Japanese, according to the Bangkok city government’s Erawan emergency centre. The nationalities of the others were unknown.
Of the injured, 10 were discharged from hospital and 11 were still receiving medical treatment.
Guests were moved to a nearby hotel as authorities investigated the cause of the incident.
Thailand is a tourist magnet but its image as the “Land of Smiles” has been tested in recent years by deadly political unrest, devastating floods and more recently a bungled bomb plot involving Iranian suspects.


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