May 8, 2006

At least eight killed in Thai nightclub fire

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A fire swept through a nightclub in the
Thai resort of Pattaya killing at least eight people and
injuring about 54 others, police said on Monday.

The blaze swept through the "Route 999" entertainment
complex shortly before opening time on Sunday evening. All of
those killed were Thai, officials said.

"They are all Thai people -- most of them bar employees,"
said Sunthorn A-karoen, a relief volunteer in the beachside
town, which has been known for its vibrant nightlife and sex
trade since the days of the Vietnam War.

Police lance corporal Dechakamol Sudson said staff were in
a routine meeting when the fire broke out.

He said preliminary investigations showed it was probably
caused by a short circuit in a power line near the building or
a faulty air conditioner.

Seven of the victims -- five women and two men -- were
pronounced dead after being admitted to hospitals in Pattaya,
southeast of the Thai capital Bangkok. Another man died inside
the nightclub.

Those injured suffered burns and breathing problems,
according to the rescue worker.

The fire was quickly extinguished and police were preparing
to inspect the building on Monday.