Cambodia casino fire: Rescue teams resume search in Poipet
Phnom Penh, Cambodia CNN –
Search and rescue operations resumed in Cambodia on Friday morning after a deadly fire swept through a border town’s casino complex, killing at least 19 people and leaving dozens missing, authorities said.
Cambodian officials expect the death toll to rise from the fire at the Grand Diamond City hotel and casino in Poipet, and rescuers who crossed the nearby Thai border to help told CNN on Friday that more bodies had been found trapped inside hotel rooms. .
Somboon Kwan-uam, with Thailand’s Poh Teck Tung Foundation, said smoke levels in the corridors were lower on Friday after earlier rescue efforts were hampered when many of the victims were found dead of smoke inhalation trapped inside the rooms. of the hotel.
“We found seven more bodies from the rooms on the second floor,” Somboon said on Friday.
Some of the victims’ bodies were expected to be flown to Thailand on Friday, he added.
Another 70 people were injured in the fire, Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesman Sek Sokhom told CNN earlier.
The cause of the fire remains unknown and the Cambodian government has set up a committee to investigate, Sek Sokhom said on Friday.
Thai rescue workers, who responded to emergency calls from Cambodian authorities, said some victims had jumped to their deaths from the burning building in a frantic attempt to escape.
“Two people died instantly when they hit the ground and about four to five (others) had their legs broken,” said Peerapan Srisakorn, of the Aranyaprathet Rescue Foundation.
Videos on the group’s Facebook page showed rescue workers in helmets and protective gear walking through smoke-filled corridors.
Sek Sokhom said the hotel used an electrical system for rooms and elevators, so when the fire started and the building lost power, many people were trapped in their rooms and unable to escape.
About 700 Thai citizens were rescued and taken to hospitals in Thailand, according to authorities.
About 300 police officers, 11 fire trucks and a number of helicopters were deployed to the scene, according to Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police Commissioner Major General Sithi Loh. The narrow and elevated layout of the hotel had made it difficult to fully assess the status of the fire, he added.
Poipet, a transportation hub between Cambodia’s Siem Reap and the Thai capital Bangkok, is known for its many casinos and is home to many Thais who work in the city’s gambling industry. Almost all forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, so many Thais cross the border to gamble legally.
Pictures from the scene on Wednesday night showed large amber flames and plumes of smoke rising from the complex.
Peerapan, of the Aranyaprathet Rescue Foundation, told CNN earlier that he suspected the fire started in a downstairs restaurant before spreading to other parts of the complex. “Some people ran to the roof, (thinking) the Cambodians might have a rescue crane to help – but they didn’t have one,” he said.
Weather conditions may have helped the fire spread, he added.
“It was very windy last night,” he said. “The fire quickly spread to the upper floors and then to every side, engulfing the entire building.”
He said he also saw a building lose power and the lights went out.