BMA to ramp up festival security Many fear crowd surge as Loy Krathong nears

bma to ramp up festival security  many fear crowd surge  as loy krathong nears

Commuters cross a jetty at Ratchawong pier in Bangkok’s Samphanthawong district. The pier on the Chao Phraya River is popular for residents floating their ‘krathong’ on Loy Krathong Day, which this year falls on Nov 8. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is planning to tighten safety measures at public areas during this year's Loy Krathong festival.

“One lesson that we have learned from the Korean crowd crush tragedy is that the BMA has to come up with measures to control crowds during major celebrations and festivals, like the upcoming Loy Krathong,” Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said on Monday, referring to the tragedy in Seoul’s Itaewon district last week, which claimed at least 154 lives.

This year, Loy Krathong celebrations will be organised at Klong Ong Ang on Nov 8. Similar celebrations will be held at 31 public parks across Bangkok, as well as a number of historical sites in the capital.

Loy Krathong celebrations generally draw significant crowds, especially along major waterways in Bangkok, where cultural performances are held and street vendors gather.

Mr Chadchart said he has ordered deputy Bangkok governors Tavida Kamolvej and Sanon Wansangboon, as well as all district office chiefs across Bangkok, to come up with plans to ensure public safety.

The BMA will coordinate with other agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Traffic Police and the Marine Department.

“We have suggested a command centre at the venues’ entrances, where authorities can monitor the situation and quickly step in to help with crowd control,” he said, adding medical teams would be standing by at entrances.

“Festival organisers have been told to prevent overcrowding at their venues. The BMA will come up with the strictest possible measure to prevent [a crowd surge].”

That said, the governor admitted authorities are more worried about people falling into rivers and/or other waterways, rather than a crowd surge.

When asked what the public can do to prevent fatalities at crowded events in the future, Mr Chadchart said schools must teach students cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). “It is a small thing that can be crucial when it is needed,” said the governor.