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Massive fire at Cambodian hotel casino kills at least 16 – NBC Chicago


A massive blaze that lasted more than 12 hours at a Cambodian hotel-casino has killed at least 16 people and injured around 50, while other casualties were apparently unaccounted for on Thursday as neighboring Thailand said dispatched fire trucks to help battle the blaze in a busy border town. .

Videos posted on social media showed people falling from a roof after being trapped by the fire at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the border town of Poipet. Many of those inside, both patrons and staff, were from neighboring Thailand.

In a video released by the Cambodian firefighting agency, onlookers could be heard shouting calls to rescue those trapped on the roof of the resort, which has more than a dozen floors at its highest point. . Video showed at least one man falling as flames reached the roof.

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

The Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue said calls for help were heard from the 13th, 14th and 15th floors at 4 a.m. and hands were seen waving from the windows as well as a flashlight from a cell phone 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 firefighters. He said that was the reason the fire kept burning for so long.

The blaze, which started around midnight Wednesday, was finally extinguished at 2 p.m. Thursday, said Sek Sokhom, head of Banteay Meanchey’s information department. He said a local Buddhist temple was being prepared to receive the dead.

The province’s deputy governor, Ngor Meng Chroun, told Cambodian radio Bayon the death toll had reached 16, with around 50 others injured. The death toll looked likely to rise as more bodies of those trapped inside were discovered and seriously injured people succumbed to their injuries.

Banteay Meanchey Police Chief Sithi Loh said 360 rescue workers and 11 fire engines had been dispatched to the scene of the blaze, the cause of which was not yet known. The casino employed about 400 workers.

“At the moment we are trying to bring the bodies down from the building. I don’t think there will be any survivors because of the very thick smoke. Even we (rescue personnel) have to wear proper equipment when we enter the building, otherwise we can’t breathe at all,” said Montri Khaosa-ard, a staff member of the Thailand Ruamkatanyu Foundation, an organization of social worker who sends volunteers to emergency sites.

Thai and Cambodian rescue teams worked side by side as they searched the badly burned premises on Thursday.

Thailand’s state broadcaster, Thai PBS, reported that 50 Thais, employees and customers, were trapped inside the casino complex. He said Cambodian authorities had requested help in dealing with the blaze from Thailand, which sent five fire engines and 10 rescue vans.

Poipet in western Cambodia is opposite the city of Aranyaprathet in wealthier Thailand, and cross-border trade and tourism are very active.

Thai PBS cited reports that the emergency department at Aranyaprathet Hospital was full and more victims needed to be sent to other hospitals.

Casinos are illegal in Thailand, but neighboring countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are home to the lucrative industry. Cambodia has a particularly active casino industry as the Southeast Asian country is also a popular tourist destination with convenient international connections.

The Grand Diamond City casino is just a few meters from the border checkpoint with Thailand and is popular with customers making the four-hour journey from the Thai capital, Bangkok.

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