A huge fireworks explosion at a Chinese New Year celebration in Thailand left four people dead and almost 90 injured, while more than 100 homes were set ablaze, officials said Wednesday.
Authorities believe the blast late Tuesday was caused when flames from a misfiring firework set off a pile of unused rockets at the display in the town of Suphan Buri, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of Bangkok.
Three male organisers were killed instantly, said local government official Somjate Phromsunthorn, while a female spectator died of her injuries early Wednesday.
The blast sent a huge cloud of smoke into the air and briefly deafened spectators, according to local media reports.
Television images showed the skeletal remains of homes and vehicles that were engulfed when flaming debris from the blast shot into a residential area.
One witness, Krianee Kitpat, said she was standing in front of her home when the accident happened.
"I saw the fireworks coming directly towards my house and ran inside," she said, explaining that she was injured by shards of glass as the impact of the projectile shattered a fish tank.
Suran Sahaidee, a monk from a nearby Buddhist temple, told Thailand's TNN channel that the blast happened in the third display of the evening.
"The fireworks exploded at a low level and then fell into a tent where they were storing the fireworks and it caused a huge blast and a fire," he said.
Authorities set up tents on Tuesday night to house those evacuated from the area.
The New Year celebration was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa and his brother, former Thai prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa. Neither were believed to have been hurt.
Thailand has a large ethnic Chinese population and the advent of the Year of the Dragon has been widely celebrated across the country.
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