More on the Bangkok nightclub fire

Some updates on the new year’s eve Bangkok nightclub fire:

  1. At least 59 people were killed and approximately 200 were injured. Some estimates put the number of dead at 61 or 62.
  2. The club was popular with Thais and foreigners alike. Survivors include citizens of 12 countries.
  3. Witnesses say partygoers at the nightclub had only one exit from which to escape the fire. Some reports say the club had just one fire extinguisher.
  4. It may take up to a week to identify approximately 30 of the bodies, as they were burned beyond recognition.
  5. The club was called Santika, located on Ekkamai road (Sukhumvit soi 63).
  6. Witnesses say the blaze was started by fireworks that were ignited inside the club, though police say the exact cause is still unclear. Some witnesses say revelers were given sparklers inside the club.
  7. A sad, ironic twist: new year’s eve marked the club’s “Goodbye Santika” party, as the property’s lease was up and the club was due to be relocated.
  8. A Wikipedia page called “2009 Bangkok nightclub fire” has been established.

Here are some recent media reports:


Bangkok nightclub fire

More than 59 people were killed last night when a fire tore through a popular nightclub here in Bangkok. Approximately 1,000 people had gathered there to celebrate the new year.

Here’s a round-up of media coverage:

For video of the incident, there’s this, from BBC News: “Eyewitness films Thai club fire

NY Times: “At Least 59 Die in Bangkok Club Fire

A fire at a high-end Bangkok nightclub killed at least 59 people and injured more than 200 shortly after midnight Thursday as revelers were celebrating the new year, the police said.

Nightclub workers said fireworks had been set off around the midnight countdown, but the cause of the fire has not been determined, according to Lt. Sutin Pongkhamphan, the police officer in charge of the case.

He said 54 people died at the scene at the popular club, the Santika, and that five more died at hospitals. An additional 212 people were injured, 21 severely.

AFP: “New Year inferno at Bangkok nightclub kills at least 58

Police forensic investigators sifted through the charred remains of an upscale Bangkok nightclub Thursday, seeking clues to a blaze that killed 58 revellers ringing in the New Year and injured 243.

Relatives and friends gathered at Bangkok hospitals and outside the popular nightspot desperate for news of loved ones lost or injured in the inferno that gutted the two-storey building.

Police said a Singaporean national was killed and scores of other foreigners — some from Australia, France, Japan and Britain — were hospitalised.

The blaze apparently broke out after a firework display at the Santika club in the Thai capital’s Ekkamai district, a thronging entertainment hub which is frequented by locals and tourists.

AP: “Fire at Bangkok nightclub kills 61, injures 200

It was billed as a New Year’s Eve blowout and a last-night celebration of the wildly popular, classy nightclub before it moved to a new location. “Goodbye Santika,” the promotion poster read. Before the revelry was over, at least 61 people were dead and more than 200 injured after they tried to flee what swiftly became a charred, gutted ruin in a glitzy Bangkok entertainment area.

Among the casualties was a Singaporean who died and at least 35 foreigners who were injured, including citizens of Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States, according to officials and reporters.

A full accounting was not expected for about a week since nearly 30 of the corpses were charred beyond recognition.

BBC: “Hazy safety in Bangkok party zone

Bangkok is a party town, and spectacular New Year celebrations are held in many of the clubs which have made the city’s nightlife renowned around the world.

The Santika was a spacious, two-storey club, stylishly decorated like a mock gothic cathedral, complete with fake arches and a large cross hung from the ceiling.

A natural magnet for partygoers, it had become one of Bangkok’s most popular entertainment venues, packed out with young Thais and foreigners at weekends.

A friend of mine was on the dance floor shortly after midnight, when he first noticed the fire.

He told me he had seen small fireworks being tossed from the stage to celebrate the New Year – then noticed flames around the stage and creeping up to the ceiling.

Suddenly, he said, the flames seemed to be everywhere, and the lights went out.

He described people stumbling towards the single entrance, trying to light their way with their mobile phones.


Happy holidays (and an excellent surfer speak video)

Mis amigos: May this holiday season make you as stoked as this surfer in Huntington Beach, California. Killer, bra. (RSS readers may need to, like, totally click through to see the vid on YouTube.)

(Via BoingBoing.)


New T+L SEA story: driving along Thailand’s side of the Mekong river

I have a story in the January 2009 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia about a car trip I took along Thailand’s side of the Mekong river, in the country’s rural northeast.

The journey was exceptional in every way: The views were striking, the people were generous and fun-loving, and — this being Thailand — the food was, naturally, quite tasty. You can find the article, called “River Escapes,” on page 76 of the magazine. (It’s not online, but you can find more info about T+L SEA here.)

In addition, I’m happy to say that the excellent images accompanying the article were shot by old Thailand hand Austin Bush, who also happens to be a good friend.

(My previous T+L SEA stories have been about riding a Soviet-era motorbike through northeast Vietnam and exploring Thailand’s Ko Chang and Ko Kood.)

Misc. traffic stats for 2008

A quick look at my Google Analytics traffic stats for 2008 reveals the following:

Visitors and Page Views
31,480 people visited this year (an average of 2623 per month) for a total of 50,901 page views

— Visitors from 162 different countries came to during 2008. The top ten countries were the United States, Thailand, the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. And folks from small countries, like Tuvalu, Palau, Bhutan, and Kiribati also came to the site.

Traffic spiked ((The dip in October occurred when I changed the site’s design and neglected to include the Google Analytics traffic code, resulting in a lack of data for a time.)) in late November, as you can see in the graph above. That’s when anti-government protesters shut down Bangkok’s airports, leading to a flurry of folks finding the site via Google searches for news about the situation.

Most Popular Posts
Some of the most viewed pages were:
Jalapeno Hands: A Cautionary Culinary Tale (10,104 page views). This post, about my friend C‘s cooking accident ((Moral of the story: always wear kitchen gloves when peeling jalapenos!)), ranks highly in a Google search for jalapeno hands and jalapeno burn. Judging from the 179 comments on the post, this epidemic has been simmering in the cooking world for some time…
Waffle coated hot dog: Consumed in Kanchanaburi, Thailand (1,321 page views)
Ecuadorian slang (1,220 page views)
How to use Skype: A Tutorial: (1,054 page views)
About me (888 page views)
Bangkok airport closure: Fri. update (872 views)
Journalism — my page of clips (560 page views)

Other Posts
Some posts from 2008 (and a few from 2007) that I like — but which haven’t attracted as many eyeballs — include:

Our Northeast India Trip: Top 10 Images
How to Learn Thai
The Asus Eee PC: 10 Things You Need to Know About the World’s Coolest Gadget
Why I Love My Grandmother
Best Burger in Bangkok
Audio Slide Show: State of Emergency in Bangkok Exclusive Video: November in Bangkok
StateStats: Analyzing Google search patterns
My Favorite Podcasts: Updated

RSS, Twitter, and Facebook
— According to Feedburner, which I use to manage my RSS feed, has 692 subscribers. But I reckon that a glitch has inflated this number artifically, and that the actual number of subscribers is in the neighborhood of 250. (Not a subscriber? Grab the feed here.)

— I’m happy to report that my recently-launched Facebook page has attracted 51 fans in just a couple of weeks.

— And Twitter, which I began using in 2008, has quickly become indispensable for me. I have 183 followers. You can find me on Twitter here.

Thanks to all of you for reading. If you have any suggestions for how I can improve the site, please leave a comment on this post or email me (newley [at]