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Deadly Chemical Fires at Thai Factory Force Thousands to Evacuate

Firefighters spray foam amid twisted metal frames of a charred chemical factory, July 6, 2021 in Samut Prakan, Thailand.

Firefighters battled deadly chemical fires Tuesday at a factory on the outskirts of Bangkok that forced thousands of people to evacuate.

The fires initially started early Monday after an explosion killed a rescue worker and wounded dozens of people. After taking more than 24-hours to extinguish the fires, a second explosion sparked more blazes Tuesday afternoon that burned for about an hour.

Monday’s explosion could be heard kilometers away as it blew out the windows and doors of nearby homes in the Samut Prakan province. Officials said 70 homes were damaged.

The cause of the blasts, which destroyed much of the Taiwanese-owned factory

that makes expandable polystyrene foam, have yet to be determined.

The head of Thailand’s pollution control agency, Attapol Charoenchansa, said air quality and water were being tested in the area and were considering reducing the evacuation zone to allow some people to return home.

Charoenchansa warned, though, that rainfall that began Tuesday afternoon could wash chemicals into area water sources.

The regional advocacy group, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, called on the government to publicly disclose more information about the chemicals that were released, as well as information about possible contamination.

This report includes information from Associated Press and Reuters.