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BANGKOK: Police have charged the managing director and engineer of a demolition firm over the collapse of an eight-storey building in Bangkok that killed four workers on Friday.

Boy Ocean Star Company had insisted that it subcontracted the job to another firm, Mega Tools.
However, police have charged Boy Ocean Star managing director Mana Kaewmanee and the firm’s engineer Kittipong Yootairomboon with recklessness causing deaths and injury, mental and emotional, to others.

Both denied any wrongdoing and were released on bail of 120,000 baht each.

According to Boy Ocean Star manager Nattapong Rattanatrakoolsuk, Mega Tools, via its representative Kritachaya Sriwanna, took over the work from his firm on October 11 and started demolishing the former car showroom at Sukhumvit Soi 87 on November 7.

“We have subcontracted the task,” he said, adding that although his firm was not directly involved in the incident, it was ready to help families of the victims.

Nattapong said Mega Tools told him it was installing additional protective panels in response to an order from Phra Khanong district office when the building crumbled. “The incident was unprecedented,” he said.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday continued its efforts to retrieve the bodies of workers Prai Khanoonram, 38, and Boonjaeng Lesla-ong, 46, who were buried under the rubble.

“We need to be very careful because of the building’s condition,” said Banchong Luangrattanapas, deputy director of the BMA Public Works Department.

Asked whether the BMA would take over demolition of the building in the wake of the tragedy, Banchong said the BMA would look into which party should be in charge. “We will ensure there will be no damage done to nearby buildings or people,” Banchong said.

Yuttapan Meechai, secretary to Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang, said the BMA had already consulted experts from organizations such as the Engineering Institute of Thailand over the situation.

Deputy Bangkok Governor Amnuay Nimmano said people could report irresponsible building demolitions to the BMA. “We have to set clear safety standards,” he added.

Meanwhile, Admiral Banawit Kengrian, a former chief adviser to the Defense Ministry who lives in the area, said the demolition of the building had adversely affected local people since the project began.

“Aside from dust and debris, sometimes vehicles of the firm involved have blocked our soi,” Banawit said.

— The Nation