Thai petrochemical accident kills twelve

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Map Ta Phut is in the Rayong province, which is highlighted on the map.

Thailand's largest chemical plant has been hit by a fire and series of explosions this weekend. Twelve people have died at the facility in Map Ta Phut, Rayong.

Investigations are underway after the four-hour blaze, which wounded more than 100 more and led to large-scale evacuations. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered a committee to investigate potential pollution from the accident, and Sunday visited hospitalised survivors.

Police are examining the scene for clues and "more bodies", a senior local policeman said. Rayong Governor Seni Jittakasem said the incident started while a chemical tank was being cleaned. All evacuees are now back home and the dead were mostly plant employees, he said.

The area has been controversial for decades. One of the world's biggest petrochemical works, high pollution levels have been noted since the 80s and residents and environmental campaigners have been demanding action since the late 90s in response to the area's high cancer levels.