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Thai Munitions Depot to Move After Blasts - 2001-10-30

In Thailand, government officials say they will move a munitions depot away from populated areas, after a series of explosions last week killed more than a dozen people and wounded scores of others at a complex in central Thailand. Five days after the blast, the clean up continues but most of those evacuated have been allowed to return home.

Thai officials say they plan to relocate the munitions depot at Pak Chong, 200 kilometers north of Bangkok, to government land 20 kilometers away. They also plan to move at least one other weapons depot away from a heavily populated area to avoid casualties if there are future mishaps.

Ten people are confirmed dead and eight others are missing and presumed dead after the series of explosions last Thursday. Authorities say more than 60 people were wounded in the blast, four of them seriously.

The incident began when a truck loaded with munitions overturned and burst into flames. Explosions spread across the 160-hectare complex, destroying eight warehouses and thousands of tons of ammunition, gunpowder and landmines. The explosions continued throughout the day and hurled live munitions into civilian areas as far as three kilometers away. A warehouse and several homes outside the complex also were destroyed.

Authorities say clean up efforts are expected to take two more weeks, but they add that most of the more than 3,000 people who were evacuated from the area have returned home.

There are eight major weapons complexes in the country. Residents living near many of the complexes now are calling for them to be moved.

The Thai Defense Ministry says it has asked the government to draft a law that would prohibit civilian residential areas within five kilometers of weapons depots.