June 08 2010
British Airways will have to pay compensation for the death of a hotel porter after a late night fire in a cabin crew hotel room in Bangkok.
British Airways denied reports by Thai police that one male flight attendant and a female flight attendant were in the same room at the Amari Atrium Hotel in Bangkok when the fire started.
A young night porter, who went to the aid of the British Airways staff on a strike-breaking flight, died of smoke inhalation after the blaze in room 2034 early on June 2nd.
The registered guest was cabin crew member named as Paul Younger, 42, who was treated in hospital.
Another crew member named as Lesley Ann Smith was also treated for smoke inhalation. She was registered to another room and British Airways say Thai police are mistaken by stating the couple were in the same room together.
Police say the fire was started by a lighted candle set on top of the television in Room 2304.
Thai Police Lt. Colonel Suphong Karuna said that British Airways bosses and management of the Amari Atrium Hotel had taken a ‘sensible approach’ to the matter which was why the couple was released.
He insisted that both crew members would need to return to Bangkok for further enquiries if the matter was not settled.
‘They gave their word that this would be dealt with amicably, which means the family will be compensated for their loss,’ said the Colonel at Makkasan Police station Bangkok today.
‘The fire started from a lit candle which set fire to the television in the room,’ said Colonel Karuna. There was no need to use candles. There were no power cuts.
Showing photos of the room, which showed that the fire was restricted to the area around the television set, he added: ‘The fire was contained quite quickly after the smoke alarms went off, but the smoke from the television was very toxic. The two BA staff were sent to hospital.
‘ We let them go home after reaching an agreement with British Airways that they would come back if the case was not settled.’.
Photos also showed an opened pack on candles of the type used for merit making ceremonies in Buddhist temples.
How much compensation would be paid Lt. Col. Karuna said he was not at liberty to say. But police were in regular touch with the family of 29-yr-old hotel porter Boonyarit Phoomthong, who rushed to the scene of the fire to help in the rescue but who died 90 minutes later.
‘His family said he suffered from breathing problems, like asthma, which seem to have contributed to his death’.
British Airways confirmed that ‘two cabin crew members were hospitalized and one person died in the blaze’. The airline denied the couple were sleeping in the same room and said Thai police must have got that impression in the confusion of the fire.
A spokesman for the Onyx Hospitality Group, who which represents the hotel said: ‘ Amari Atrium Bangkok, can confirm that the hotel had – and continues to have – full fire and safety regulations and fire prevention methods and systems in place. A full police investigation of the incident is underway.
‘We would like to express its deepest condolences to the family of its very valued employee who died whilst fulfilling, and going beyond, his assigned duties.’
Asked to clarify whether the cabin crew were together in 2304 or separate rooms an Onyx spokesman said: ‘Beyond our statement we can make no further comment.’
Staff at the Amari Atrium hotel were instructed not to talk about the blaze. When contacted about claims that the couple were in the same room Lt. Colonel Suphan Karuna laughed.
‘I am not saying anything further on this matter.’
Today (Wed) there was little evidence of the fire on the 20th floor of the hotel in the city’s Petchaburi Road. But there was a still a lingering smell of burned plastics.
British Airways crews enjoy a good reputation in the Thai capital and are regarded as well mannered and polite and, according to the owner of a bar they frequent in an area called Washington Square, ‘always good fun’.
But last year the crew of a London bound 747 flight were ambushed as they were about to board their bus for the airport by a Thai bar owner accompanied by a policeman over an unpaid bar bill after a rowdy night. Their behaviour in the bar had been described as loutish.
Non striking BA crew in Bangkok last year being confronted over an unpaid bar bill