Cambodia hotel fire: 19 dead and 60 injured after blaze at casino on Thailand border
Authorities have said that some victims are believed to still be under debris.
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The blaze happened near the border with Thailand and the neighbouring country sent fire appliances to help fight inferno. Some victims were believed to still be under debris or in locked rooms that rescue teams could not access, so the death toll was expected to rise, said Sek Sokhom, head of Banteay Meanchey’ province’s information department. He said more than 60 people were injured.
Videos posted on social media showed people apparently jumping from windows after they were trapped by the fire at the Grand Diamond City Casino and Hotel in the border town of Poipet. In a video posted by Cambodia’s firefighting agency, onlookers could be heard shouting pleas to rescue people trapped on the roof of the hotel complex, which is more than a dozen storeys tall at its highest point.
The video showed at least one man falling as the flames reached the roof. “Oh, please help rescue them. Pump water, pump water,” shouted the onlookers.
Thailand’s public broadcaster reported dozens of Thais were trapped inside. The blaze, which started at about midnight on Wednesday (28 December), was put out over 12 hours later on Thursday (29 December), said Sek Sokhom.
Sithi Loh, police chief in Banteay Meanchey province, said 360 emergency personnel and 11 fire appliances were sent to the scene and rescue teams were looking for victims. He said the cause of the blaze was not known. The casino employed about 400 people.
Thai PBS reported that 50 Thais, both staff and customers, had been trapped inside the complex. Thai and Cambodian rescue teams worked side by side in Thursday’s search of the premises, but paused efforts at the dangerously damaged site as night fell.
Poipet in western Cambodia is opposite the more affluent Thai city of Aranyaprathet, and there is busy cross-border trade and tourism. Thai PBS cited reports that the Aranyaprathet Hospital’s emergency ward was full and other victims had to be sent to other hospitals.