Fireworks Warehouse Explosion: Owners Hiding in Malaysia

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Fugitive Couple Linked to Influential Figures

The owners of the recently exploded fireworks warehouse in Narathiwat, Sompong Nakul and Piyanuch Peungwirawat, have been confirmed to be hiding in Malaysia. The couple’s business is allegedly connected to influential figures in the southern Thai province. According to Narathiwat police chief Pol Maj Gen Anurut Im-arb, the two individuals have not contacted the authorities to turn themselves in.

Explosion Aftermath and Victims

The explosion occurred on July 29 in tambon Muno, killing 12 people, injuring 121, and damaging 292 houses. A source revealed that the couple is backed by local politicians, and their business involves smuggling fireworks, cigarettes, liquor, narcotics, and workers.

Previous Legal Issues and Connections

Sompong and Piyanuch were arrested in 2016 for storing and selling 60 tonnes of fireworks and other flammable materials without a permit. However, the case was not filed with the provincial court. High-profile activist Achariya Ruengrattanapong has requested an investigation into several organizations, including the Laem Chabang Port Customs Office and the Royal Thai Paramilitary Force in Muno subdistrict. He noted that importing fireworks into Narathiwat would require approval from the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) and questioned whether bribes were involved.

Ongoing Investigation

National police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas has acknowledged Achariya’s letter and stated that officers are currently probing the factory owners’ previous arrest to determine if they had a legitimate license to transport fireworks into the area. Meanwhile, Narathiwat governor Sanan Pongaksorn has said that most of the injured victims have returned home from the shelter, worried about their property.

Prime Minister’s Visit

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to visit Narathiwat on Friday to inspect the site of the explosion.