Wednesday, September 5, 2007

No Sprinklers

Safety first!

Bangkok hotel fire which injures 16 guests had no water sprinkler safety system

A fire in a popular Bangkok hotel injured 16 people and took three hours to extinguish because the 30-year-old building had no water sprinkler system, a police official said Wednesday.

The blaze broke out shortly after midnight in a second-floor room of the downtown Mandarin Hotel, forcing hundreds of guests to flee, said police Lt. Col. Chakarin Panthong.

Sixteen people — all foreign tourists — suffered smoke inhalation and were hospitalized, he said. About 400 other guests were evacuated safely.

Police were investigating the cause of the fire, but initial investigations showed a short-circuit was responsible.

The fire took so long to put out because there was no sprinkler system in the 30-year-old hotel, said Chakarin.

Some guests criticized hotel management for the way it handled the emergency.

Danish tourist Martin Andersen, 27, from Copenhagen, said there was no fire alarm. His girlfriend Gitte Christensen, 27, called the situation "chaotic."

"This has been handled very, very badly in my opinion. There is just nobody in charge," said George Adigun, 39, a commodity consultant from London. "There is no evacuation point. No one from the hotel has come out to tell us what is happening."

Mandarin Hotel management could not be immediately reached to comment.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand halted trading in shares of Mandarin Hotel PCL after the incident, and said trading won't resume until the company has disclosed the cost of the damage and the impact on earnings.