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Khon Kaen school building under scrutiny after wall collapse

Apr 23. 2019
Concrete debris is scattered over the ground floor of a private school building in Muang Khon Kaen, following a partial collapse during Monday afternoon’s storm that led to a four-year-old pupil’s death.
Concrete debris is scattered over the ground floor of a private school building in Muang Khon Kaen, following a partial collapse during Monday afternoon’s storm that led to a four-year-old pupil’s death.
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By KRITMET LOHO
THE NATION

5,671 Viewed

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl was killed when the wall of a school building collapsed during heavy rains and strong winds in Khon Kaen province on Monday.

According to an initial investigation, the collapse may be linked to modification of the building’s construction plan.

Khon Kaen Governor Somsak Jangtrakul yesterday morning led police and related officials to inspect the private school building in Tambon Ban Ped of Muang district, where the four-year-old girl had died.

Somsak revealed that an initial survey found the building construction failed to precisely follow the approved plan.

During the storm at around 4pm on Monday, three kindergartners were waiting for their parents in the company of some teachers at an open atrium in the three-storey building. 

A section from the top of the concrete wall suddenly fell on them from an eight-metre height, resulting in the death of the four-year-old while and two pupils and two adults, including the deceased girl’s father, suffered injuries.

An inspection of the sealed scene, which still had debris on its floor, found the building’s construction had deviated from the approved plan, said Somsak.

“The part where the concrete wall and ceiling fell should have been a solid wall according to the plan, but it was installed with glass windows,” he said, adding a team from the Public Works and Town and Country Planning Office would later conduct a detailed inspection of the building.

In order to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy, Somsak said he would also have the provincial education office suspended classes at the school, and the damaged building would be closed for any use. He would also ask the provincial education office to have all schools check the structural stability of their buildings as a safety precaution.

Thanyawalai Panna, who had obtained the licence for the school, apologised on behalf of the school for the tragedy and said she was saddened by what had happened. She said the school would take responsibility for the families of the deceased and the wounded.

However, she insisted that the school building’s construction was according to the original plan.

“It was the first rainfall that Khon Kaen people had long waited for, but I lost my little girl forever that day,” said Paisal Surasa, 37, the father of Suchada. He himself damaged a left arm bone from the incident. 

At his daughter’s funeral at Wat Klang yesterday, Paisal recalled that he had gone to pick up Suchada at the school, where she had just start studying two weeks ago. 

However, heavy rains and gusty winds prompted them to seek shelter in the building when the wall suddenly collapsed on them. “It happened so fast. We were walking to the other side of hall when it all went black for a few moments as I felt something crashing down on me and I fell. I opened my eyes and saw my daughter crushed under debris,” the grief-stricken father said. Paisal’s wife was still in shock. The girl was her parents’ only child. 

Khon Kaen Governor Somsak 

 attended the girl’s funeral and offered a wreath while the Office of the Private Education Commission representative offered some initial financial aid to the family.

The girl’s cremation ceremony will be held on Friday.

Ban Ped superintendent Pol Colonel Prawit Toha said police had initially interviewed the school executives but had not yet filed any charges against anyone pending a detailed building inspection.

There were also various points to cover, he said, including whether the building design met engineering standards, and whether the building’s construction was legal. Police would obtain the plan from Tambon Ban Ped Municipality to compare with the school building owner’s plan to see if there were any discrepancies, he said.

Construction of the building began in 2013 and was completed the following year and opened for operations. There were 40 teachers and staff and nearly 400 students from pre-school level to Prathom 4.

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