Owners Flee to Malaysia Following Tragic Incident
On Wednesday, police issued arrest warrants for the owners of a fireworks warehouse in Narathiwat that exploded on Saturday. The blast in tambon Muno of Sungai Kolok district resulted in 12 fatalities, 121 injuries, and damage to 292 houses. The owners, Sompong Nakul and his wife Piyanuch Peungwirawat, failed to report for questioning on Tuesday.
Investigating the Explosion
In response to the tragedy, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas directed Provincial Police Region (PPR) 9 chief Pol Lt Gen Nanthadet Yoinual to provide assistance to victims and expedite the investigation. The aim is to bring legal action against all relevant individuals and to investigate other warehouses to prevent such incidents from happening again.
The couple was summoned to acknowledge charges on Tuesday, including possessing and distributing fireworks without permission, negligence causing deaths and injuries to others, damaging properties, and proceeding with construction without permission. However, they reportedly left home last Thursday and traveled to Malaysia via Muang Sadao immigration checkpoint in Songkhla, and have not returned to Thailand.
International Cooperation and Previous Incidents
“The national police chief will coordinate with Malaysian police to help arrest them and bring them back to face legal action,” said Royal Thai Police (RTP) spokesman, Pol Lt Gen Archayon Kraithong. A police source revealed that the couple operated a grocery store as a front to illegally trade and export fireworks to Malaysia. In 2016, Mr. Sompong was arrested for storing and selling fireworks and other flammable materials without a permit, but the case was dropped by prosecutors.
Investigations are ongoing to determine how the fireworks warehouse was allowed to be situated in a community area. PPR 9 has also formed a panel to investigate potential involvement of negligent police officers or state officials.
Transfers and Upcoming Parliamentary Meeting
Narathiwat Police chief Pol Maj Gen Anurut Im-arb ordered the transfer of four senior officers of Muno Station to inactive posts at Narathiwat Provincial Police Operation Centre, pending an investigation. Bhumjaithai Party secretary-general Saksayam Chidchob announced plans to submit an urgent motion for fireworks storage to the parliamentary meeting on Thursday.