January 5, 2009 in Nation/World

Thai club owner to be charged

Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand – The owner of a Thai nightclub where at least 62 revelers perished in a New Year’s Eve fire will face criminal charges over the blaze, which was likely sparked by a countdown fireworks display on the stage of the jammed nightspot, police said Sunday.

Wisuth Setsawat, a Thai-Chinese businessman, broke down in tears as he offered apologies to relatives of the victims Sunday before being questioned by police over the disaster at his Santika Club.

The fire raced through the two-story building with victims succumbing to the blaze, smoke inhalation and injuries from a stampede as hundreds of revelers tried to escape through a single main door.

Police said Sunday that Wisuth would be charged with carelessness leading to the deaths of others. He has already been charged with allowing in an underage customer, a 17-year-old who was among the dead.

The death toll rose by one to 62 on Sunday, with 31 others in critical condition having sustained burns over 70 percent of their bodies, according to Narenthorn Emergency Center.

A total of 78 patients, including 47 in stable condition, were still being treated at Bangkok hospitals, the center said.

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