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Pathum Thani

Death toll in condo collapse rises to 11

Eight more bodies pulled out of rubble, three workers still unaccounted for

THE NUMBER of deaths caused by the building collapse in Pathum Thani province on Monday has risen to 11, with eight more bodies being retrieved from the rubble yesterday.

Relatives, meanwhile, are anxiously waiting for news about the fate of three workers who are still unaccounted for. The missing three are Thai nationals Tawatchai Suksom and Phoot Khokpae, and a Cambodian worker going by the name of Oh.

"I hope my two other relatives [Thawatchai and Phoot] are still alive. I am hoping for a miracle," Nitiya Suksom said yesterday, after having already lost three family members to the tragedy.

The condominium building was under construction when it crumbled on Monday, trapping dozens of workers. This structure is part of the U Place condominium project.

"We will try to retrieve all the bodies as soon as we can," Chatchai Phromlert, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department's director-general, said yesterday.

Officials from several agencies, including the military as well as |volunteers, have joined efforts to remove the wreckage and locate the missing. Now, every move is recorded on video as the process may provide evidence about the cause of the accident.

As per the department the accident has also injured 25 people.

So far, at least seven suspects - including the project's co-owner Pensri Kitipaisannont, engineer Saksit Inthong and constructor Diao Prabjone, have been charged with recklessness that caused deaths.

Meanwhile, Chatchai said his department will coordinate with relevant agencies to help provide assistance to the victims and their families.

For starters, he said, the Pathum Thani social security office will pay Bt30,000 to each dead victim's family to help with funeral expenses and will cover medical expenses of up to Bt300,000 for those injured. The victims and their families need to register with the office to claim compensation.

Ekasit Limsuwan, vice president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT), said his institute was looking into recent building collapses in a bid to gain information needed to identify the cause of the latest accident, and to develop guidelines that could prevent such tragedies in the future.

According to him, information gathered by the EIT could also help police investigators looking into the accident.

He said that when wrongdoers are brought to justice, businesses might refrain from compromising on public safety for the sake of profits.

The EIT vice president said he had noticed that owners of some public buildings in suburban areas had exploited legal loopholes related to safety systems and environmental measures.


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