Death Toll Hits 25 in High-Rise Casino Fire

More than 60 were injured, Cambodian authorities say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2022 4:18 AM CST
Updated Dec 30, 2022 4:15 AM CST
At Least 16 Dead in Cambodia Casino Fire
Thai ambulances drive through a ruined building as they head back toward Thailand border at the scene of a massive fire at a Cambodian hotel casino in Poipet, Cambodia, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022.   (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
UPDATE Dec 30, 2022 4:15 AM CST

The confirmed death toll from a massive fire at a casino hotel complex in Cambodia rose to 25 on Friday as the search resumed for victims, officials said. The blaze at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the town of Poipet on the Thai border started around midnight Wednesday and was extinguished more than 12 hours later. By Friday morning, 25 bodies had been recovered from the site, according to Sek Sokhom, head of Banteay Meanchey province’s information department. More than 60 people were injured, he said, and the death toll was expected to rise once rescuers are able to access victims who are believed to be under debris or in locked rooms. Thai and Cambodian rescue teams have been working side-by-side in searching the 17-story complex, but paused their efforts overnight at the dangerously damaged site, the AP reports.

Dec 29, 2022 4:18 AM CST

A massive fire that lasted more than 12 hours in a Cambodian hotel casino killed at least 16 people and injured about 50. Other victims were apparently not yet accounted for Thursday, as neighboring Thailand sent firetrucks to help fight the blaze in a bustling border town, the AP reports. Videos posted on social media showed people falling from a roof after they were trapped by the fire at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the border town of Poipet. Many of those inside, both customers and staff, were from Thailand. 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 stories tall at its highest point.

The video showed at least one man falling as the flames reached the roof. The Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue posted that calls for help were heard from the 13th, 14th, and 15th floors at 4am and hands were seen waving from windows as well as a mobile phone's flashlight signaling from inside the complex. "The fire was massive, and was inside the casino, so it was difficult for our water cannons to reach it," observed a firefighter on the video posted online by the fire department. He said that was the reason the fire continued burning for such a long time. The blaze, which started around midnight Wednesday, was finally put out at 2pm Thursday, authorities said.

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Provincial police chief Sithi Loh said 360 emergency personnel and 11 firetrucks were sent to the scene of the fire, whose cause was not yet known. The casino employed about 400 workers. Thai and Cambodia rescue teams worked side-by-side in Thursday's search of the badly burned premises. Thailand's public television network, Thai PBS, reported that 50 Thais, both staff and customers, had been trapped inside the casino complex. It reported that Cambodian authorities requested help to deal with the fire from Thailand, which sent five firetrucks and 10 rescue vans. Casinos are illegal in Thailand, but neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos host the lucrative industry

(More Cambodia stories.)

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