By Prirapan Rachatathammakul
The house was said to have once been at the centre of a construction lawsuit.
Following the 7pm accident in Muang district, some 300 officials and rescue workers searched among the debris for the three trapped family members, after two unwounded daughters aged 14 and 29 were pulled out shortly after the collapse.
The search and rescue mission ended before midnight with the discovery and removal of the dead body of the father Chairoj Thanyalertpattanakit, 54, while his wife Sirikan, 52, and daughter Thanyakan, 31, were found wounded and rushed to Prachuap Khiri Khan Hospital.
Forensic officers at 9am checked concrete pillars and beams and the overall condition of the shophouse, which housed a dynamo motor repair service and car battery sales, on Phetch Kasem Road in Ban Bung (Moo 4). The building is now sealed from outsider access pending an investigation.
Tambon Ao Noi Administrative Organisation vice president Nakhon Srisuthanan said his office would also probe this case as the party responsible for approving house construction. They would check if it had followed construction regulated regulations, and whether it had a proper permit or anything deviated from the permitted plan.
Prachuap Khiri Khan Governor Panlop Singhaseni visited the wounded victims at hospital at half past midnight.
The mother, Sirikan, recalled that she was setting up table for all family members to dine together when they heard a sound like “rain and hail stones hitting the roof” before the roof caved in and the whole house collapsed on them.
Still conscious after the collapse, she searched for her family members but could not find them, she said. Finding a cell-phone nearby and seeing many calls were made to it, she chose not to answer them in order to save oxygen and instead called her engineering graduate brother, who knew the house layout, to tell her exact location and lay still while awaiting rescue.
“I told myself to keep calm and convinced myself that my kids had already fled the scene to safety,” she recalled.
Sirikan said the 13-year-old house had been at the centre of a lawsuit over a construction issue that stemmed from the construction contractor’s use of substandard metal materials. The family had planned to demolish it and then rebuild it in 1-2 years but the tragedy hit first.