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Fire damages petrochemical plant in Thailand's Eastern Seaboard industrial zone

BANGKOK - A fire damaged a petrochemical plant in eastern Thailand on Monday, sending smoke billowing for kilometres (miles) and forcing nearby residents to flee their homes.

Police Lt. Prapan Pitaksa said no one was injured in the fire in Rayong province at a facility belonging to IRPC Public Co. Ltd., which refines both petroleum and petrochemicals. He said the fire was put under control within 20 minutes.

Prapan said the fire was started by a gas leak which may have resulted from pipes that overheated or cracked from expansion.

Police said they could not immediately estimate the damage from the fire.

The area around Rayong, 180 kilometres (112 miles) southeast of Bangkok, hosts many of the country's heavy industries, which are serviced by port facilities on the Gulf of Thailand.

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