A Taiwan-owned chemical factory located on the outskirts of Bangkok exploded Monday, killing at least one person. Authorities said Tuesday that the explosion had injured at least a dozen people and several homes were badly damaged.
Thai authorities said Tuesday they have already evacuated people living near the destroyed Ming Dih Chemical Co factory because poisonous fumes were still emanating from the facility. Authorities said there are also fears of additional explosions.
The factory, which manufactures foam and plastic products, is located just outside Bangkok near the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Witnesses said the explosion blew out the windows of several surrounding homes and debris from the facility was flung several hundred meters into the air.
Authorities said the sound of the explosion could be heard from kilometers away. Surveillance footage from nearby houses and buildings was able to record the bright flash and loud boom.
Firefighters were able to put the main blaze under control by midday but a tank of styrene monomer was still burning, disaster prevention officials said. By Tuesday, a dense cloud of black smoke can still be seen billowing from the factory.
Patients from a nearby hospital, where those injured by the blast were also being treated, have been asked to evacuate. Authorities said the poisonous fumes from the factory could cause serious health problems for those in the hospital and nearby homes.
Experts said styrene monomer can produce extremely poisonous gases when burned. The chemical is typically used in the production of foam plates, cups and other Styrofoam products. One chemical that is produced by ignited styrene monomer is styrene gas - a neurotoxin that can potentially immobilize people within minutes of inhalation. High concentrations of the gas could be fatal, experts said.
"Those who breathe it in can get dizzy and vomit, and it might cause cancer in the long term," Thai Pollution Control Department official, Thalerngsak Petchsuwan, said.
Authorities said they had attempted to fly a helicopter over the factory to dump fire retardant onto it but pilots were finding it difficult to navigate through the smoke.
Authorities said at least 62 people have been injured - including 12 firefighters and rescue workers. So far, only one person has been confirmed killed.