Deadly refugee camp blaze leads to transfer of top Khun Yuam cop

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BANGKOK, March 26 – Khun Yuam police superintendent was transferred from his post on Tuesday for failing to immediately reach the refugee camp which was on fire, resulting in 37 deaths last Friday.

National police spokesman Maj Gen Piya Uthayo said Pol Col Nitinart Wittayawutthikul has been transferred to the office of Mae Hong Son provincial police for 30 days as he did not arrive the Mae Surin refugee camp in Khun Yuam district immediately when the fire broke out.

The spokesman said Col Nitinart also failed to comply with his superior’s orders and was unprepared to perform his duty.

Mae La Noi police station deputy superintendent Pol Lt Col Pongsakorn Ratsameerojsakul has been assigned to temporarily replace the outgoing superintendent.

The blaze killed 37 refugees, 21 of them men and 16 women, and injured more than 100 others as fire raged at the camp last Friday.

About 3,500 ethnic Karen people live in the camp. Initial reports suggested some 2,300 lost their homes and possessions in the disaster.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong said he has instructed health officials including Surveillance and Rapid Response teams (SRRT) and malaria control units to visit the temporary shelter to prevent the possible outbreak of contagious diseases.

The minister said essential medical kits have been distributed to the affected refugees, while concerned officials are also monitoring the hygiene of food, drinking water and sanitation systems, including toilets and garbage disposal to prevent diarrhea. (MCOT online news)