Three people were killed and three injured when a fire broke out in a Bangkok apartment early Tuesday, trapping 24 tenants.
The fire started at the 15-storey Ratchathewi Apartment building on Soi Phetchaburi 18 off Phetchaburi Road in Ratchathewi district at about 2am.
Ten fire engines responded to the emergency call. However, as the soi is too small for fire engines to enter, firefighters had to find other sources of water closer to the fire and connect water hoses reaching from the street to the burning building.
After the 24 tenants were rescued and the fire extinguished, firefighters found a man on the 12th floor who had apparently died from smoke inhalation. Another man was taken to hospital but later succumbed to his injuries at Ratchawithi Hospital.
Officials said three tenants suffered from smoke inhalation and were sent to the Ratchawithi Hospital and Phayathai 1 Hospital.
Pol Maj Gen Senit Samransamruajkit, commander of the Metropolitan Police Division 1, said the fire was caused by a short circuit inside the building's main power cable shaft.
Smoke spread through the building's central air-conditioning system, causing the entire building to be engulfed with smoke in a short time.
During the initial hours of the rescue operation, tenants shouted for help from their balconies and used their mobile phones as flashlights to wave for help.
One man, who appeared to be around 25-35 years old, tried to escape from the sixth floor by tying clothes to make a rope to climb down but he fell and was injured. He was sent to the Phayathai Hospital.
Firefighters used a megaphone to instruct people trapped inside the building to keep their heads low and breathe through wet cloths or to go onto their balconies and wait to be rescued.
Pornnapas Prasertkul and Ployrung Penphansiri, who were trapped inside their room on the seventh floor for over on hour, said they were woken at 2am by a loud noise.
They initially thought there was a fight until someone knocked on the door of their room saying there was a fire.
When they opened the door, smoke rushed in so they wore smoke masks they had prepared and went onto their balcony.
They called their relatives for help and tried to coordinate with neighbours to help each other.
They said they were afraid to go downstairs as they were not sure where the fire was located.