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At least 19 killed in Cambodian casino fire as victims jump from ledge to try to escape flames

At least 19 individuals had been killed and plenty of others are feared useless in a fire at a Cambodian casino, with a rescuer describing how victims hurled themselves from a ledge in a determined bid to escape the flames.

The blaze on the Grand Diamond City hotel-casino in Poipet, inside view of the Thai border, broke out late Wednesday evening, Cambodian police mentioned.

“There are 19 dead so far as we see bodies and bones,” mentioned Sek Sokhom, director of Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey provincial info division, warning the “figure could be higher” as rescuers haven’t but reached elements of the advanced.

A volunteer with Thai rescue group Ruamkatanyu Foundation who wished to stay nameless mentioned his staff arrived at round 2 a.m. ET and noticed individuals jump from the constructing.

“I witnessed people running out of the building to escape from the smoke,” he mentioned, including {that a} group had been additionally packed onto a rooftop to keep away from the flames.

CORRECTION Cambodia Hotel Fire
In this picture supplied by Cambodia’s Fresh News, a constructing burns close to a Cambodia-Thai worldwide border gate in Poipet, west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

Fresh News by way of AP


“Then we saw some people jumping down,” he mentioned.

Video confirmed the constructing consumed by flames, with firefighters struggling to comprise the blaze and rescuers making an attempt to pluck individuals from a burning ledge.

In one clip, an unidentified man is seen sitting on a window ledge as smoke billows out from behind him. In one other, a gaggle of individuals huddle on a ledge as flames draw close to.

A Thai overseas ministry supply mentioned that they had been coordinating intently with native authorities, “including by sending in fire trucks from the Thai side.”

Thai authorities in neighboring Sa Kaeo province later mentioned greater than 50 victims had been hospitalized there, with native public well being official Prapas Pookduang telling AFP that 13 individuals had been “on life support.”

Sa Kaeo Governor Parinya Phothisat mentioned one other roughly 60 individuals caught up in the fire had already been checked and cleared by Thai hospitals.

CORRECTION Cambodia Hotel Fire
In this picture supplied by Cambodia’s Fresh News, smoke rises as a fire burns by a Cambodian resort casino close to a Cambodia-Thai worldwide border gate in Poipet, west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

Fresh News/Photo by way of AP


He mentioned Thai hospitals had handled 79 Thai nationals, 30 Cambodians and eight Indonesians.

The Ruamkatanyu Foundation volunteer mentioned the blaze began on the primary ground however unfold shortly alongside carpets, leaping up by the multi-storey constructing.

Naphat Klonkliang, an officer with the muse, instructed AFP that they had retrieved two our bodies.

(*19*) the officer mentioned.

Some victims had been believed to nonetheless be beneath particles or in locked rooms that rescue groups couldn’t instantly entry, so the demise toll was anticipated to rise, mentioned Sokhom, who instructed the Associated Press that firefighters had been in the end ready to extinguish the fire at round 2 p.m. native time on Thursday. Rescue operations continued after the blaze was out, he reportedly added, noting {that a} preliminary investigation suggests the fire might have been attributable to an overload of New Year’s decorations drawing elevated electrical energy and inflicting wires to overheat and burn.

The Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue posted that requires assist had been heard from the thirteenth, 14th and fifteenth flooring at 4 a.m. and fingers had been seen waving from home windows as properly as a cell phone’s flashlight signaling from contained in the advanced.

CORRECTION Cambodia Hotel Fire
In this picture supplied by Cambodia’s Fresh News, victims of a fire obtain water from cops close to a Cambodia-Thai worldwide border gate in Poipet, west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

Fresh News by way of AP


“The fire was massive, and was inside the casino, so it was difficult for our water cannons to reach it,” noticed a firefighter on the video posted on-line by the fire division. He mentioned that was the rationale the fire continued burning for such a very long time.

Hotel-casino hotspot

Cambodia is one in all Southeast Asia’s poorest nations and its residents are formally barred from playing in its casinos.

But there are quite a few hotel-casinos clustered alongside the Thai border, with Poipet a preferred vacation vacation spot for guests from Thailand, the place most types of playing are additionally unlawful.

The blaze follows two different deadly incidents in leisure venues in Thailand and Vietnam this year.

In August, a fire broke out at a Thai nightclub, killing 26 individuals and injuring scores extra.

The following month a blaze in southern Vietnam killed 32 individuals at a karaoke bar.

Concerns have lengthy been raised over the area’s lax strategy to well being and security rules, notably in its numerous bars, nightclubs and different leisure venues.

An enormous inferno erupted at a New Year’s Eve occasion at Bangkok’s swanky Santika membership in 2009, killing 67 individuals and injuring greater than 200.

The proprietor of Santika was jailed for 3 years over the blaze, which started when fireworks had been set off as a rock band performed on stage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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