POLICE have pinpointed a litany of safety failures that prevented workers fleeing their blazing factory: At least one of the exits had been locked. The deputy governor of Nakhon Prathom province, in which the factory was located, confirmed that the fire alarm did not work. Narrow corridors leading to the exits had prevented large numbers of women from making their way out. Stairways collapsed under the weight of many of the women running from the upper floors. The management underestimated the danger and delayed the evacuation. A survivor said: ''My section chief told us not to go, not to move when all the commotion started. When the fire got serious we all ran for our lives.'' More than 550 people were injured, many of them critically. Doctors said a large number of workers had head and back injuries after leaping from high windows. Others had burns or had inhaled toxic smoke. The Interior Ministry announced an official investigations into the blaze and the operation of the factory. Authorities were interrogating plant officials but no arrests had been made by late last night. Hundreds of rescuers who had worked frantically throughout Monday night continued to claw through the rubble. They were joined late in the morning by soldiers equipped with cranes. The Thai Government said it would make an initial payment of US$400 (about HK$3,100) to the families of the victims to cover funeral costs. The injured would get US$1,200. Nine out of 10 of the victims were women, many of them schoolgirls who were due to return to their studies in 10 days. A South China Morning Post inspection appeared to bear out witnesses' observations that no outside fire escapes were provided. Certainly none was visible in the remains or on the surviving four-storey foam factory. A factory employee, speaking on a radio broadcast on Monday night, said the fire was believed to have started in a ground-floor storeroom, in the main building, when an electrical short circuit ignited nylon fabric and other synthetic materials. Thailand has often paid a high cost for its rapid economic growth rate. The thousands of poor people who flock to Bangkok from the rural areas have often found themselves with no alternative but to work in sub-standard factories. Rampant corruption amongst Thai officials enables unscrupulous employers to avoid implementing effective but more costly safety measures. In September 1990, about 100 people were killed in central Bangkok when a speeding gas truck crashed and exploded, engulfing a busy street.