Thai pub owner charged in connection with deadly blaze
The owner of a music pub in eastern Thailand where a fire killed 15 people and injured more than three dozen others last week has appeared in court charged with causing death by negligence.
Pongsiri Panprasong, owner of the Mountain B pub in Sattahip district of Chonburi province, about 160 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, turned himself in on Saturday.
Police charged the 27-year-old with causing death by negligence and operating an entertainment venue without permission. He could face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 baht (£4,600).
Live bands regularly played on a stage at the pub, including as the fire started early on Friday morning on the ceiling above them. Police have said the venue was licensed only for operation as a restaurant.
The site of the fire remained sealed off on Monday as forensic police and building inspectors worked to determine the cause of the blaze and whether the pub had met building standards.
“I am sorry. I want to say sorry to the victims’ families,” Pongsiri said to reporters from a police prison van at the court in Pattaya. Pongsiri, whose face was concealed by a mask, a hat and a towel, said he will compensate the victims.
Many of the injured suffered severe burns. Thirteen people died at the scene and two more died later.
The governor of Bangkok said the city had recently inspected more than 400 entertainment venues and found 83 places failed to comply with safety standards.
Sixty-six people were killed and more than 200 were injured in a fire during a 2009 New Year’s Eve celebration at the Santika nightclub in Bangkok. That blaze was apparently sparked by an indoor fireworks display.