At least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a fireworks factory in central Thailand.
The blast took place at about 3pm (08:00 GMT) in a remote area in the province of Suphan Buri, about 120km (74 miles) north of the capital, Bangkok, police said, according to a video shared with media of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin being briefed by telephone.
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The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.
Photos posted online by local rescue workers in Suphan Buri showed the site, in an otherwise unoccupied rice field, levelled flat aside from debris and body parts, with a huge plume of black smoke rising above.
The explosion came less than a month before Chinese New Year, which falls on February 10, when demand for fireworks is strong.
ฝากท่านผู้ว่าฯสุพรรณบุรีช่วยเหลือทันที และขอแสดงความเสียใจกับครอบครัวและญาติผู้เสียชีวิตด้วยครับ https://t.co/CZynRJZRjo
— Srettha Thavisin (@Thavisin) January 17, 2024
The provincial governor told the Reuters news agency that no survivors had yet been found.
“There were deaths, we are checking how many people died,” police colonel Theerapoj Rawangban told the AFP news agency. “We do not see more damage toward other houses or people who live in the [nearby] community,” he added.
Srettha, who is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, expressed his condolences and called for a swift investigation.
“The prime minister ordered an inspection of the plant to see if it was operating legally and if the explosion was caused by negligence. The law must be enforced to the fullest extent because there are innocent deaths and injuries,” his office said.
One worker was killed in an accident at the factory in November 2022.
In July 2023, a large explosion at a fireworks warehouse in southern Thailand killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 100, according to officials.