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Second explosion on oil tanker in Thailand

There is growing concern over safety standards on the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, with the latest incident happening within weeks from the burning of Smooth Sea 2

Just about three weeks ago, the oil tanker moored at Samut Prakan in Thailand had caught fire, causing injury to two crews and a casualty. On 27 March, another oil tanker – Ampar 8 – caught fire after an explosion. This time, it resulted in three crew members being injured and another casualty, while the other 14 members of the crew had been successfully evacuated from the burning vessel by rescuers.

The incident had been reported to the Boonwipa Rescue Volunteer unit around 1:50pm local time while the vessel had been sailing past Phra Chulachomklao Fort of the Royal Thai Navy, enroute to Bangkok. Shortly after receiving the call for help, boats were sent out by the navy and Samut Prakan’s disaster prevention and mitigation office to help put out the fire.

In an official statement, the Thailand Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate confirmed that the tanker belonged to Ayudhya Development Leasing Co and had been carrying 3 million litres of crude oil. Preliminary investigations by the police revealed that sparks erupted in the anchor windlass room prior to the explosion, which caused a fire contained within the room.

Concerns for safety along Chao Phraya River
In August 2021, the Thailand Marine Department announced plans to boost safety standards on the Chao Phraya River and Pasak River. It was aimed at increasing logistic capabilities from 40 million tonnes to 65 million tonnes of freight. So far, the department has enhanced infrastructure capabilities along the river bank.

However, concerns over the safety standards on the river remains high, and the back-to- back incident does not assuage worries of the public at large – be it the local residents living along the river or for seafarers working onboard the vessels.

In a commentary published on Bangkok Post, it was suggested that the department could promote transparency and include local communities in the decision-making process and safety campaigns. It also serves to provide some assurance to the public that safety standards are being taken seriously, with a proper probe into the causes of the incidents and what steps would be taken to prevent such incidents from happening.


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