Many Bangkok residents ran for their lives yesterday morning after an LPG tanker rammed into the railing of a bridge, reminding them of the horrific inferno in 1990 on New Phetchaburi Road that was triggered by a similar accident.
Some, however, were stilling sleeping because the tanker started leaking LPG at dawn on the inbound Pattanakarn Road near the mouth of Soi Pattanakarn 20 and 22. At least two residents were injured, one of them, Buapan Suwansaeng, sustaining serious burns, from an explosion.
Yesterday’s incident also shattered the glass windows of five nearby shophouses.
“Fortunately, we are up early every day. Otherwise, we might not have been able to run away in time,” Somporn Sibto said.
He said he was alerted when he heard someone talking about an accident and hence went out to check.
“Then, everyone shouted that the accident involved an LPG tanker and that we must run,” Somporn said.
Watcharin Boonsawang, 50, said he heard a big bang soon after he woke up at around 5.30am.
“I rushed out and found the driver trying to close the valve of the tanker as the white fumes were spreading fast. I asked him what it was. As soon as he told me it was LPG, I told him we had to run,” Watcharin said.
He said he sped for cover and he saw the driver also running soon after.
“Not long after I started running, there was an explosion,” Watcharin said. He added that the blast broke many windows of his threestoreyed shophouse.
Watcharin said the haunting memory of the 1990 gastanker accident was vivid when the explosion happened. Back then, the accident caused a deadly fire that devastated 21 city blocks and killed 59 people on the New Phetchaburi Road.
“Fortunately, this time the casualties and losses were not that high,” Watcharin said. “The flame soared up and did not spread.”
Pol LtGeneral Krissada Khansoda, an investigator at the Klong Tan Police Station, said he immediately called for fire engines when he received a report on the LPGtanker accident.
“We had to control the blaze from the tanker otherwise it could have spread fast. Nearby are shophouses that sell cooking gas and a warehouse of wood,” he said.
During the sixhourlong efforts to control the blaze and prevent further explosions, the area around the accident scene was cordoned off. Traffic was paralysed.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Wanlop Suwandee said the tanker ceased to be a risk at around 11.30am after which it was taken away.
“Police will be investigating the accident,” he said.
Wanlop believed the owner of the vehicle – Pilatus Land & Transport – would likely be held responsible for the damage and injuries caused.
The tanker driver, Anan Kaema, fled from the scene.
So far, witnesses have told police that the driver swerved his vehicle and hit the railing after a motorcycle cut in front of the tanker.