Massive fire at Cambodia hotel casino kills at least 19

Massive fire at Cambodia hotel casino kills at least 19

Breaking news via AP

In this photo provided by Fresh News Cambodia, a building burns near a Cambodia-Thailand international border gate in Poipet, west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. A fire burning through the Grand Diamond City Casino and Hotel has killed many people and injured dozens more, police said Thursday, and neighboring Thailand sent fire trucks to help fight the blaze in a bustling border region.

POIPET, Cambodia – A massive fire at a Cambodian hotel casino on Thursday injured more than 60 people and killed at least 19 – a toll that officials warned would rise as the search for bodies resumed on Friday.

The fire, which started around midnight on Wednesday, was extinguished more than 12 hours later at 2pm on Thursday, said Sek Sokhom, head of Banteay Meanchey province’s information department. He said more than 60 people were injured and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers are able to enter victims believed to be still under the rubble or in locked rooms.

Videos posted on social media showed people falling from a roof after being trapped by fire at the Grand Diamond City Casino and Hotel in the town of Poipet.

In a video posted by Cambodia’s fire agency, a crowd can be heard shouting prayers to save people trapped on the roof of the hotel complex, which is more than a dozen stories high at its highest point. up. Video showed at least one person falling as flames reached the roof.

“Oh, please help save them. Pump water, pump water!” the onlookers shouted.

The Department of Fire Prevention, Suppression and Rescue said they heard calls for help at 4am coming from rooms on the 13th, 14th and 15th floors. Hands and even a mobile phone flashlight were seen from the windows inside the compound.

“The fire was massive and it was inside the casino, so it was difficult for our water cannons to reach it,” a firefighter said in the video posted online by the fire department.

Many of those inside, both customers and staff, were from neighboring Thailand, which sent firefighters and emergency workers on Thursday to help deal with the crisis in the bustling border town.

An initial investigation found that the fire may have been caused by New Year holiday decorations drawing too much electricity, causing wires to overheat and burn, Sek Sokhom said. The dead and injured were people of several nationalities, including Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Cambodian, he said.

A local Buddhist temple was being used to receive their bodies.

The Grand Diamond City casino complex has 500 employees and had 1,000 customers on Wednesday, according to a report by Soth Kimkolmony, a spokesman for Cambodia’s National Disaster Management Committee. It is not known how many were present when the fire broke out.

“Right now, we’re trying to get the dead bodies out of the building. I don’t think there will be any survivors because of the very thick smoke. All of us (rescue staff) also have to wear proper clothing when we go inside the building, otherwise we can’t breathe at all,” said Montri Khaosa-ard, a staff member of the Thailand Ruamkatanyu Foundation, a social welfare organization that sends volunteers to disaster scenes.

Thai and Cambodian rescue teams worked side by side in Thursday’s search of the premises, but called off their search efforts at the badly damaged site after nightfall.

Thailand’s public television network, Thai PBS, reported that 50 Thais, staff and customers, were trapped inside the casino complex. He cited reports that the emergency ward at Aranyaprathet Hospital on the Thai side of the border was full and some victims had to be sent to other hospitals.

Poipet in western Cambodia is a busy place for cross-border trade and tourism across from the city of Aranyaprathet in wealthier Thailand.

Casinos are illegal in Thailand. Many Thais visit neighboring countries such as Cambodia – a popular tourist destination with convenient international connections – to play. Poipet has a cluster of more than a dozen casinos.

The Grand Diamond City Casino is just a short walk from the Thai border checkpoint and popular with customers who make the four-hour drive from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok.


Associated Press reporter Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul in Bangkok contributed to this report. Sopheng Cheang reported from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *