Police today were transporting a nightclub owner into courthouse custody over a deadly inferno that killed 15 people and injured dozens.
Pongsiri Panprasong, 27, was to be held in remand at the Pattaya Court just days after fire ripped through his Mountain B nightclub southeast of the capital in Chonburi province. Pongsiri has been charged with fatal negligence and running an unlicensed nightclub.
While he was being escorted into a vehicle, he told reporters he was “sorry” for the incident.
At least 40 people were injured in the early hours of Friday morning along with the 15 who died after fast-moving flames spread through the building.
The venue did not have a license to operate as a nightclub. It was only granted a restaurant license in 2018, according to Sattahip Mayor Narong Boonbancherdsri. Five officers assigned to the Plutaluang Police Station in Chonburi’s Sattahip district were administratively disciplined while a committee investigates their roles in allowing the unlicensed club to operate.
Pongsiri has confessed to both charges, said his lawyer Anucha Wongsrirat. He will offer THB50,000 (US$1,400) to compensate the victims’ families and THB10,000 (US$280) to those injured.
Police have not yet officially pinpointed the cause of the fire. This morning, investigators were expected to pore through the wreckage.
In the wake of the tragedy, Bangkok’s City Hall announced yesterday that it had temporarily closed 83 venues with low safety standards, including poorly marked fire exits.
The nation’s worst known nightclub fire took place on New Year’s Day in 2009, when 67 people died in a blaze at the Santika nightclub in Ekkamai sparked by a pyrotechnics display. Initially sentenced to three years in prison, owner Visuk Setsawat’s conviction was overturned on appeal.