Deadly Explosion at Thailand Fireworks Factory Leaves Dozens Dead and Missing

BANGKOK, Thailand – A devastating explosion rocked a fireworks factory in central Thailand, leading to a death toll of approximately 20 people, as reported by provincial officials. The specific number of casualties remains uncertain due to the extent of destruction at the site of the explosion. Initially, the Suphan Buri provincial government’s information office indicated that 23 individuals had lost their lives in the blast, but later revised the figure to 19 dead and three missing. The national Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation provided a preliminary estimate of at least 20 people killed.

Suphan Buri, situated about 95 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Bangkok, lies at the heart of Thailand’s central rice-growing region. Images shared on social media depicted a dense plume of black smoke billowing over the scene. Photos posted by local rescue workers online revealed that the factory site had been virtually flattened by the explosion. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who was at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, received a distressing phone call from the regional police commander, informing him that 20 to 30 workers were present at the factory during the blast, and none of them could be located.

Rescue workers at the scene stated that no survivors were found, contradicting the statement by the disaster department that injured individuals had been discovered. Kritsada Manee-In, a rescue worker with the Samerkun Suphan Buri Rescue Foundation, struggled to provide an exact count of casualties due to the state of the bodies being in pieces.

This tragic incident occurred less than a month before the Chinese New Year, a time when the demand for fireworks is typically high. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, according to the national disaster agency. National police chief Torsak Sukvimol confirmed reports of another explosion at the same factory in November 2022, which resulted in the death of one worker and the serious injury of three others. He asserted that legal action would be pursued for any wrongdoing involved in the most recent accident.

In July of the previous year, a large explosion at a fireworks warehouse in southern Thailand claimed the lives of at least 10 people and left more than 100 individuals injured. The explosion, which took place in Narathiwat province, caused extensive damage to around 100 houses within a 500-meter radius. The governor of Narathiwat indicated that the blast was likely triggered by construction work in the warehouse, sparking a fire that caused the stored fireworks to ignite and explode.

A previous version of this report has been corrected to say the date of the earlier reported explosion was in 2022, not 2023.