BANGKOK Four people died and at least 11 were injured in a fire early on Friday in a bar on the island of Phuket, police said, adding to recent incidents that have tarnished the reputation of one of Thailand's premier tourist destinations.
The dead included two women and one man but police said the bodies were too badly burnt to identify. Four French nationals were among the injured, one of them seriously ill in hospital.
The Tiger Pub on Patong beach, which also houses a discotheque, was reported to be close to collapse after the fire, which broke out shortly before 4 a.m. (2100 GMT on Thursday).
"It was probably due to the strong rainfall, which caused a transformer to explode. The fire then spread to the pub, causing significant damage," a police officer in Kratu district told Reuters by phone.
Thailand is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, attracting 19 million visitors last year to its beaches, temples and racy nightlife in the capital, Bangkok.
But robberies and scams are on the rise in some areas, and an Australian woman died in Phuket in June after being stabbed while trying to fend off a bag-snatcher.
Lax safety standards are a problem. In the worst incident in recent years, 66 people died and more than 200 were injured when a fire broke out in a club in central Bangkok as people were welcoming in the new year in the early hours of January 1, 2009.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Viparat Jantraprap and Sinsiri Tiwutanond; Editing by Alan Raybould and Jonathan Thatcher)