Deadly Thai factory blaze sends toxic plume into sky

Several people were feared dead and dozens more were injured after a blaze tore through a chemical factory in eastern Thailand spewing toxic smoke into the air, local police said on Sunday.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated after the fire at a synthetics factory in Rayong province on Saturday sent a plume of black acrid smoke into the sky.

Firefighters quelled the blaze late Saturday but there were fears poisonous fumes could still seep into the air.

Local police said they were still trying to establish an exact death toll, but media reports on Sunday said three people - believed to factory workers - were killed while several others remained in a critical condition.

"More than one hundred people were injured but I can not confirm exactly the number of dead," Map Ta Phut police Lieutenant Colonel Charoen Vititkornkul said.

"We will assess today (Sunday) whether there is any further risk of chemical gases leaking and will evacuate more residents if necessary."

Health officials quoted by the Bangkok Post said exposure to the smoke could cause serious illness including breathing difficulties and dizziness.

Rayong province is around 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of Bangkok and is one of Thailand's biggest industrial areas.

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