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BANGKOK — At least 13 people were killed and about three injured when a fire broke out at a crowded music bar in the eastern province of Chonburi on Friday morning, authorities said.

a video The scene showed people fleeing the burning building, with some people’s clothes on fire.

Police said they were investigating the cause of the fire. They said the nightclub was built illegally, without a permit, in an area where entertainment venues are not allowed, to complement an existing restaurant.

Witnesses said the fire appeared to have started from the ceiling near the stage, and they heard explosions shortly after the fire started.

Police are investigating reports of emergency exits being locked during the fire, Local news media coverage. Some news outlets also reported that the fire was started by flammable acoustic insulation in the walls.

A customer who identified herself as Nana told local TV station PPTV that she was sitting near the back of the bar when she first saw sparks near the ceiling above the stage, from where the fire quickly spread.

“I saw flames on the right side of the stage,” she said. “The singer on stage saw it at about the same time, yelled ‘fire! And threw the mic at it.'”

She said when she and her friends walked to the door, they saw people’s clothes on fire. “I’ve seen a lot of bars with bouncers covered in flames inside,” she said, adding that the bar had only recently opened.

Nightclub B Hill is located in the Sattahip district at the southern tip of Chonburi province, about 100 miles southeast of Bangkok. All the victims are Thai citizens, according to police.

Photos of the bar taken after the fire showed charred stage and sound equipment, floors covered in ash and water, and the remains of tables and stools.

The deadly incident comes as Thailand tries to revive its tourism industry. A major contributor to the national economy, the tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and has only recently started to attract large numbers of international tourists.

The blaze is reminiscent of the deadly blaze that engulfed Bangkok’s high-end Santika nightclub at the start of the new year in 2009. That blaze, possibly started by fireworks, killed 66 people, many of them foreigners, and injured more than 200.

Richard C. Paddock reporting from Bangkok, and Muktita Suhartono From Jakarta, Indonesia.

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