BANGKOK, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Seven people were killed and 23 others injured after a school sports arena collapsed in northern Thailand, a Thai government spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.
The accident occurred at around 7:00 p.m. local time on Monday when the roof of a primary school sports arena in Phichit province collapsed in a heavy rainstorm, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM).
In response to the accident, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed condolences to the affected families and instructed relevant agencies to prioritize search efforts for the missing, assess the extent of the damage, and provide prompt assistance to victims, said Anucha Burapachaisri, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister and government spokesman, in a statement.
The injured individuals were transferred to two local hospitals, the DDPM said on its Facebook page.
Local media reports indicated that a whirlwind struck the metal roof of the building, resulting in the collapse of the entire structure and trapping students, parents, and school staff under debris.
Phichit Governor Payon Asavapichayon visited the affected site on Tuesday, where at least 100 local households reported damages due to the storm and further assessments were underway. The school and other affected areas have been declared as public disaster zones.
As the rainy season begins on Monday, the Thai Meteorological Department has forecasted heavy and continuous rainfall in most areas of the country.