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Thailand: Deadly Hat Yai hotel fire 'caused by car bomb'

A fire at Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Hat Yai, southern Thailand, has killed five people and injured more than 300.

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(Antler)

A midday explosion at a hotel in Hat Yai, southern Thailand, has left three people dead and some 300 injured, according to local media reports.

There were conflicting reports about the cause of the blast and fire Saturday at the high-rise Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel.

It was initially reported to have been caused by a gas explosion in the hotel's basement, but some reports now say it was caused by a car bomb that exploded in an underground parking lot, according to the Bangkok Post.

The explosion happened just after a series of bomb blasts in Yala province, southern Thailand, that killed 10 people and injured more than 100.

Police chief Lt. Gen. Jakthip Chaijinda told the Associated Press that the Hat Yai hotel incident "is likely related to what happened in Yala and might have been plotted by the same group of insurgents."

Officials told Agence France-Presse that about 300 people were injured, most of them from smoke inhalation. A Malaysian tourist is among the dead, according to the Associated Press.

The New Straits Times reported that 11 Malaysians were among the injured.

Debris from the blast penetrated the hotel's first floor, located three levels above, the Bangkok Post said citing TV news footage.

Hat Yai is the largest city in southern Thailand, and a popular destination for tourists from Malaysia and Singapore, AFP said.

More from GlobalPost: Thailand: Deadly bomb attacks hit southern province of Yala

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/thailand/120331/fire-hat-yai-hotel-lee-gardens-plaza-car-bomb-thailand