Police ready to file charges over fatal hotel fire

national March 14, 2012 00:00

By Jessada Jantharak,
Suparat Ia

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In the ongoing probe into last week's Grand Park Avenue Hotel fire, Thong Lor police superintendant Pol Col Rattasak Raksalam said yesterday police had interviewed witnesses and gathered enough evidence to file a charge of recklessness leading to death ag

Police would issue a summons warrant for the building’s owner company in seven days.

The fire on March 8 in the Soi Sukhumvit 22 hotel’s fifthfloor reception hall caused the death of two Russian tourists and injured some 20 others.

Hotel executives say they have not yet met with police, and authorities are waiting for forensic results to determine the cause of the fire – as well as evidence from related agencies including the Klong Toei district office, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) public works department, and the Engineering Institute of Thailand.

The BMA has vowed to complete highrise regulation amendments in three months.

Metropolitan Police deputy chief Pol MajGeneral Anuchai Lekbumrung said the Russian Consulate had told police investigators that relatives of the deceased tourists believed the fire had been an accident and the procedure to return the bodies for religious ceremonies was underway.

Auncha said criminal code prosecution against those involved in the hotel fire was pending forensic results. Prosecution under the Building Control Act was also waiting for a Klong Toei district office’s police complaint against two persons named as the building owners. Police have not heard from the owners yet.

Anucha said in the Asoke Fico Place fire on March 3, which police were investigating, only one out of some 20 companies using the building had reported fire damage to police. Anucha said police hadn’t filed charges against anyone pending forensic results, but 10 witnesses were to be interviewed, mostly tenants.

Meanwhile, at the Grand Park Avenue, Engineering Institute of Thailand secretarygeneral Thanes Weerasiri, who led BMA public works officials to inspect the fire scene, said the blaze had not affected the building’s structure. The initial inspection details would be sent to the district office in two days for use in legal action, he said. After another thorough engineering inspection, the building should be ready to resume operations. He suggested however the hotel hire a credible engineering institute to inspect, design and assess the repairs before reuse.

The Bangkok Council’s special committee on safety measures in tall buildings, extralarge buildings, public gathering buildings and entertainment venues had its first meeting yesterday with related agencies. It assigned Prawet Councillor Kitpol Cherdchukitkul to lead the task of finding solutions and amending highrise control and safety regulations.

Bangkok Council chairman Suthichai Weerakulsoonthorn said they would discuss building control regulation 1992 amendments to improve fire prevention system efficiency, the adding of warning devices and sprinklers as well as providing harsher punishments for landlords and negligent state officials.

Considering of the draft and its amendment should take less than  three months to put into effect, he said.


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