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Eight believed killed in Thai tanker blast

Seven dock workers are feared dead after a products tanker exploded in Thailand while undergoing maintenance works, shortly after 9 am local time on 16 January.

The 2018-built 6,500 dwt Smooth Sea 22, one of seven tankers owned by Thai tanker operator Smooth Sea, was anchored at Ruammitr Dockyard along Mae Klong river in Muang district when the incident happened. Firefighters took over an hour to bring the flames under control.

Smooth Sea is involved in transporting clean petroleum products within Thai domestic waters.

The impact of the explosion was such that houses several kilometres away had their glass windows shattered.

Governor Somnuek said that welding work was being done on Smooth Sea 22 when the blast occurred. At the time, 10 dock workers were in the vessel and 30 other workers were along the bank of the dockyard.

The body of one worker was found, with his leg ripped off by the blast. The limb was found 500 metres away from the tanker.

Seven other dock workers remain missing, comprising six Myanmar nationals and one Thai. The Bangkok Post cited unverified information that a second corpse had been found.

Four workers, comprising three Myanmar nationals and one Thai, suffered injuries.

The governor revealed that upon inspecting the tanker wreckage, 25,000 litres of fuel oil and 20,000 litres of gasoil were found in the tanks of Smooth Sea 22, when the vessel was previously declared to be empty.

Relevant persons will be questioned to see if the Occupational Health Safety Act was breached, while the cause of the blast will be investigated.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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