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One of the bodies is carried through the tiger's jaws at the ravaged disco

Phuket Tourist Blaze: Four Dead, Eleven Injured as Fire Rips After-Hours Patong Disco

Friday, August 17, 2012
PHUKET: Fire ravaged an after-hours discotheque on Phuket early today, killing four people and injuring 11 more, according to early reports.

The fire in Patong, Phuket's west coast tourist hub, is reported to have broken out at 3.55am, almost two hours after all bars and other venues in Patong are supposed to close.

At 6am, the area around the Tiger Discotheque off Patong's Soi Bangla remained under tight police control, with a large crowd of onlookers held back as ambulances reversed one by one down the laneway to pick up bodies.

This report is coming LIVE from the Platinum bar on the laneway corner with Soi Bangla, where go-go dancers usually gyrate.

There is nothing but sadness is Patong today.

At Patong Hospital, authorities were unable to pinpoint precisely how many injured had been caught by the fire, but a nurse did say that one man was critically burned and in danger.

Forensic police went in to the fire scene a short time ago, to check the cause of the blaze. It is believed the bodies are still inside.

Only when they are examined will it be known whether they are tourists or Thais. Almost certainly, some tourists are among the dead and injured.

The Tiger group had recently built and opened its own new Tiger bar complex in Soi Bangla, reportedly because the rents charged for much of the nightlife premises had grown too high.

After a large fire in Bangkok killed scores of people on New Year's Eve a couple of years ago, Phuket authorities conducted a crackdown on venues on Phuket.

The old Tiger Discotheque was one of the venues checked by the then governor for safety exits.

This morning's blaze ripped through the premises at the back of the Tiger complex, exposing beams along about 30 metres of the structure.

Firemen were climbing stairs to complete the mopping up process. Presumably, the stairs were the way that some people escaped the inferno.

Patong is currently in the middle of an election campaign for mayor, with the incumbent, Pian Keesin, standing again and hoping to win on September 2.

This morning's tragedy is likely to highlight safety as a critical issue for Phuket tourism - but in a different way to the murder of Australian tourist Michelle Smith, who was knifed in a bag snatch on June 20.

From my seat at Platinum, I can see the tattered remains of a large sign above the Tiger, advertising a big boxing fight on August 24.

By then, the number of dead and injured, the cause of the blaze and the future of Patong will be plain.


Comments have been disabled for this article.



Aren't you getting a bit old to be out in Patong discos till 6am?

Posted by stu on August 17, 2012 07:10

Editor Comment:

Four people are dead. Wisecracks like that indicate you've lost track of what's really important, stu.


The old Tiger Discotheque was one of the venues checked by the then governor for safety exits.
And, where is that reserve fire exit located there? I can only imagine a narrow staircase near WCs, that most probably was barricaded with different kind of stored there staff.

But number of casualty - at least 4 deads, is amazing. At 4 am there are very few people in discos in low season, it should be very unfortunate combination of circumstances.

Posted by SUe on August 17, 2012 07:25


Unfortuanately, it was inevitable that something like this would happen some day

Posted by sky on August 17, 2012 07:50


You've done it again. You have trounced your print opposition with this report by some hours. Congratulations on a job well done.

Posted by Lucky on August 17, 2012 08:25


A lot of fires on Phuket seem to be caused by faulty electrical wiring if one reads up on past news reports.

Such accidents are preventable.

In most developed nations owners are charged with negligent, involuntary manslaughter if such is found to be the cause for the loss of human life.

Furthermore building safety inspectors are taken to task if they have approved of the building but it's found not to comply with regulations.

Looking back at Santika, I don't expect anyone to be held responsible for this tragedy either.

Posted by Andrew on August 17, 2012 08:44


No doubt its a common (daily) occurance, but I wonder what kind of trouble tiger will get for being open after 2am? Can anyone confirm this fire was caused by 'lightning'? Seems unlikely. Also, whether tourists or Thais, the loss is equally devastating. RIP to those involved.

Posted by Nick on August 17, 2012 08:52


I've been too both Tiger and hollywood clubs... The lack of fire escapes completely astounds me!! In particular Hollywood, I would not want to imagine if a fire broke out in hollywood as that would be a tomb... Its so typical of Thai authorities only to act upon after a tragedy has happened when it could have been prevented how sad!!

Posted by Anonymous on August 17, 2012 10:21


What a terrible tragedy for the people visiting Phuket, clubs allowed to be open after legal closing hours, packed full with no capacity laws or proper fire protection in place.
Hopefully the International community will demand that Thailand hold all persons responsible for this, and that they are made accountable, and given the severest punishment by law.

Posted by S. Martin on August 17, 2012 10:26


@Andrew, I am open to correction but I recall the owners and managers and the band, being given jail terms for varying charges relating to the Santika fire. In Phuket we just know a thrash with a strand of spagetti will be punishment enough. RIP To the deceased.

Posted by Dun on August 17, 2012 10:33


Sad, and should not have happened! Phuket is unsafe, (blanket statement). Fire alarms, safety doors, signage are to be placed and adhered to and then the payoffs start and nothing happens. Tourism industry works hard, spending millions to push Thailand as the LOS, yet never informing of the dangers and incompetencies. Money, it is all about money. Not the safety of the Thai people or Farang.

Posted by Bruno on August 17, 2012 10:34


Thank heavens there was not a fire in Soi Crocodile. That place would just turn into one big crematorium. RIP to the people who died and a very speedy recovery to all those injured. Please make sure that the persons and owners are made to be held accountable for this tragedy.

Posted by Robin on August 17, 2012 11:14


Sad state of affairs these poor people killed and injured families destroyed all because of local officials and faceless owners failing to do their jobs in providing a safe club . Let me guess the CCTV cameras weren't working at the time or the film is ruined or missing oh and the beat cops and their superiors well they had no idea that the disco was operating way after hours what does officialdom and the owner care they only care about making MONEY in patong.

Posted by Scunner on August 17, 2012 11:49


I've been to Tiger and have to say it never occured to me that it might be unsafe, but regrettably it seems large parts of Asia dont really take any regulation or saftey issues seriously. Having said that, it may just be an unfortunate tragedy... until the investigations are complete no-one can say for sure.

Posted by Anonymous on August 17, 2012 12:20


You are indeed to be complimented for the speed and thoroughness of the original report and the followups as well as the accompanying photos.

Posted by ssresident on August 17, 2012 12:50


Very sad..MCOT TV about an hour ago said (according to the wife) that the estimated daily take from Tiger was in the region of 10 million ...guess with those numbers words like Integrity, Accountability and Culpability just don't translate...shame on Phuket again.

Posted by David on August 17, 2012 12:58


PHUKETWAN WROTE: The fire in Patong, Phuket's west coast tourist hub, is reported to have broken out at 3.55am -
Deaths would have been avoided if the Tiger Disco had been closing on time at 02:00. We hope that Phuket governor will charge civil servants for breach of duty.
As usual tea-money plays a large role to break the law and hope the new election for Patong Mayor on September will bring a better team to clampdown those opportunists in businesses where life and safety is less important than money.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 17, 2012 12:59


SUe - I only go to Patong during low season because I hate the crowds... Have you actually gone into Tiger during Low Season? Low or High Season, you can't move.

My thoughts to all involved, RIP to the victims.

Posted by Joel M on August 17, 2012 14:12


Have you actually gone into Tiger during Low Season? Low or High Season, you can't move.
In Low Season, or as well in Shoulder Season, at 3:55am usually discos are quite empty, looks like a marketplace when it officially close - very few folks in.

Posted by @Joem on August 17, 2012 15:23


whistleblower "Deaths would have been avoided if the Tiger Disco had been closing on time at 02:00"

whatever the subject, however tragic you always have something crass to say. Get real, opening time is irrelevant, unfortunately the same could have happened at is a function of insufficient fire exits, truing etc; not the time!

please for once show some respect, and stop your churlish, ill thought through rants! get a new hobby, one you may in time become competent at, commenting is definitely not your forte! RIP the poor victims.

Posted by Anonymous on August 17, 2012 15:28


I was told at 6am this morning a power transformer exploded and it was the 5th time it has happened in Patong this year. This was the first time major damage had been caused. Stand by for a five minute crack down on safety. R.I.P to the victims.

Posted by logbags on August 17, 2012 15:50


Phuketwan has been reported in New Zealand media as breaking this story. A sad day for Patong.

Posted by Marty on August 17, 2012 16:36


"Tiger, tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night."

- William Blake

Posted by Poet on August 17, 2012 17:19


@ Dun

You are right, my bad. The band and the manager were indeed convicted. I stand corrected.

Owners however, including the police officer, did not even get charged, as far as I've seen reported. There was a lot of talk about building and safety regulation breaches being ignored.

Posted by Andrew on August 17, 2012 18:15


@joel m......Totally agree with you i always go to patong in low season and going again in 6 weeks and all the clubs i go tiger,fbi etc are always packed. RIP TO ALL THE VICTIMS.

Posted by Darren walker on August 17, 2012 19:17


I've seen a couple of transformers explode and it could easily be mistaken for a lightning strike.

Very bright, white sparks fly all over the place and the leaking oil catches fire and spreads it out quickly.

The sound is also deafening, easily mistaken as a bomb. It also stinks up the whole area.

In a new developement/installation the owners have to pay for everything from concrete poles to cables, insulators and yes, transformers.

After that however their maintenance and replacement becomes the responsibility of EGAT.

I recommend checking the location of the transformers near your home or business and figuring out what might happen as a result of an explosion.

Taking a few precautions can't hurt.

Posted by Andrew on August 17, 2012 20:34


Andrew: You might want to check the facts again. Both the club owner and the light and sound company's owner were given years of jail terms, (not enough in my opinion) and ordered to pay millions of Baht in compensation to the plaintiffs.

Posted by J on August 18, 2012 07:49


@ J

The club had several different owners, one of them being a police officer.

Depending on what news source you read, most say the manager was jailed and some say The owner.

Since there was no one owner but several, I find that information unreliable or lost in translation.

However nowhere is it reported the police officer received any kind of penalty, even when there was strong suspicion he used his influence to have BMA turn a blind eye to the safety regulation breaches.

I think the only indisputable fact is that we don't know who was really responsible and obviously no lessons were learned either because we now have our own local repeat of the Santika tragedy in addition to the recent hotel fires in Bangkok.

Posted by Andrew on August 18, 2012 12:17


PW has handled this story very responsibly, sticking to the facts and avoiding sensationalism. The posters here, on the other hand, are another story. The authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire or what factors lead to the tragic loss of life, but amazingly, PW readers seem to already know exactly what went wrong and who is to blame! Apparently they are all experts who have conducted their own forensic studies in the past 48 hours!

Posted by Matt on August 20, 2012 14:21

Sunday June 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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