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Chemical fire extinguisher leak kills eight in Thai bank

[BANGKOK] Eight people died and seven were injured when they accidentally triggered a fire extinguisher system in the headquarters of a major Thai bank, releasing a suffocating cloud of chemicals, officials said Monday.

The accident occurred late Sunday night in the basement of the Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), one of the country's largest financial institutions.

SCB said contractors had been working to improve the building's chemical fire extinguishers but mistakenly set off the system, releasing chemicals that likely caused oxygen levels to plummet.

"The work may have triggered (the) Pyrogen aerosol which, once it works, will decrease oxygen, that could cause people's injuries and death," the bank said in a statement.

Pyrogen manufactures a type of aerosol fire extinguisher that is used in places where putting out a fire with water would damage documents or electrical equipment.

On its website the company says its aerosol does not deplete oxygen. But it also advises against using it in occupied rooms and says "accidental exposure should be limited to five minutes".

Bangkok's Erawan emergency medical centre said five people were killed at the scene while three died in hospital.

Seven workers were injured and remained in hospital, the centre added.

"SCB would like to express its sympathy to those injured and killed," the bank said in its statement, adding it was cooperating with police.

The bank said the rest of the building was not affected and was open for business.


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