One person died and another 29 people were injured after a massive explosion at a factory on the outskirts of Bangkok early on Monday, reports the AP.
Local media reported that the initial explosion shook terminals and other buildings at Bangkok’s largest international airport, Suvarnabhumi, setting off alarms and panicking staff.
Airport officials said that no flights had been cancelled but offered no other immediate details.
The explosion occurred at around 3am at the Ming Dih Chemical factory compound, consisting of multiple warehouses storing foam and plastic pallets manufactured on site in the factory located in a village southeast of the Thai capital.
A blaze followed and firefighters were shown on Thai news media climbing through twisted steel wreckage to get their hoses close enough to the flames as they fought to control the blaze.
Nearby homes had their windows blown out and wreckage in the streets, with black smoke billowing over the area even hours later.
Authorities ordered the evacuation of an area 5km around the scene amid fears that thousands of litres of leaking chemicals may cause more explosions.
Evacuation centres were set up in a school and a government office for those forced from their homes.
“At first it felt like lightning. After that, I heard something drop loudly, and for a while the house started shaking like there was an earthquake,” said Baitong Nisarat, a local resident.
Disaster authorities said 70 houses were damaged and fires were still being fought nine hours after the explosion.
The cause of the blast had yet to be determined.
“We are trying to look for the injured,” volunteer rescue worker Anyawut Phoampai told Thai public TV station TPBS. “But the flames are high so it takes quite an effort.”
He said that rescuers were also fanning out around the area to help people who reported being injured by falling debris.