According to Phuket governor Maitree Inthusut and deputy governor Sommai Preechasilp, firefighters yesterday put out fires on 90% of the 35-rai plot on Thepkasatri Road and the rest of the compound where chemicals continue to smoulder. Officials are applying potassium permanganate, effective micro-organisms and lime to relieve unpleasant smells in the area.
Meanwhile, investigators are waiting to speak to witnesses who reportedly saw sparks inside the store just before the blaze. They have cordoned off an area covering about 120 square metres in the middle of the burnt plot for further examination.
Kantapat Pisitkunanont, a Phuket provincial councilor, said insurance officials from the United States and South Korea would start to examine the fire site next week. They will take at least a month, so during this period provincial authorities cannot clean the site.
Mr Kantapat said he feared chemical products at the burnt store could cause pollution and harm residents. He urged provincial authorities to prompt the store management and insurance representatives to speed up their examinations.
Padungkiat Uthokseni, health chief in Muang Phuket district, said more than 20 local people were suffering from blood circulation and respiratory problems and rescue workers who put out the fire for days without gas masks risked inhaling carcinogenic substances. He admitted the local health office had no safety masks for the rescue workers.
Sant Janwong, disaster prevention and mitigation chief of Phuket, said the fire destroyed 22 houses next to the discount store. His office initially offered 3,000 baht to each person affected by the fire, but will examine their houses before granting additional assistance.
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