Published November 20, 2014
Rescuers carried four corpses out of a charred nightclub Friday after an early morning blaze gutted the two-story building on a Thai resort island that is popular with foreigners, though recent deadly events have dented its image.
Eleven people were injured in the fire at the Tiger Discotheque, a bar and dance club on a street packed with pubs and restaurants in Phuket's Patong beach area, the island's main town.
Rescue crews pulled out the victims on stretchers covered by tarps in the morning. Beach sandals were scattered among the charred debris.
Nationalities of the four victims were not immediately known, said police Maj. Gen. Chanasit Wattanawarangkun. The injured are four French tourists and seven Thais.
An initial investigation indicated sparks from an electricity transformer near the club started the fire after heavy rains caused a brief blackout in parts of the island, Chanasit said.
The fire is the latest deadly event to tarnish Phuket's image as a tourist paradise.
A 60-year-old Australian tourist was stabbed to death on Phuket in June after two Thai men tried to steal her pocketbook.
Friday's blaze was likely to revive a debate about inadequate safety measures at shoddily built nightclubs in Thailand.
A fire at the Santika nightclub in Bangkok killed 67 people on New Year's Day in 2009. More than 1,000 revelers were inside the club when an indoor fireworks display set off after the countdown to the new year ignited the blaze.
The Santika's owner was sentenced to three years in prison and found guilty of having caused the deaths without intent. The verdict did not address allegations that police had turned a blind eye to safety violations at the club prior to the fire.