Fire at Myanmar embassy in Bangkok closes visa section

Other News Materials 26 May 2008 08:36 (UTC +04:00)

The Myanmar embassy to Bangkok closed its visa application section on Monday after a fire broke out in one of the compound's buildings, the dpa reported.

A fire started on the second floor of a building used for embassy guests early Monday morning, destroying about 70 per cent of the house and prompting the embassy to close its visa section, police said.

"It was an accident," said Thai Police Major Thanyaboon Thonjalatwong. "There were no injuries, and we've ruled out sabotage."

The fire coincides with mounting confusion within the international aid community over whether Myanmar's ruling junta will follow up on commitments to grant more visas to aid workers seeking to enter the country to meet the desperate needs of some 2.4 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis, which slammed in to the country's central coast on May 2-3.

Myanmar military supremo Senior General Than Shwe assured United Nations Secretary Gernal Ban Ki-moon on Friday that the regime would allow "all" foreign aid workers unhindered access to the country and disaster zones.

But there were few new details on visa procedures revealed at a pledging conference held in Yangon on Sunday.

"We're still optimistic but we're struggling with lack of detail on the ground as to what this all means," said Sarah Ireland, regional director for Oxfam, one of many aid agencies trying to get more experts in to Myanmar.

With the embassy closed Monday, Ireland said they would have to wait till Tuesday to check on progress on their visa applications under consideration.