Cambodia casino fire: Death toll rises to 25; search operation continues

Phnom Penh: The confirmed death toll from a massive fire at a casino hotel complex in western Cambodia rose to 25 on Friday, 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 on Thursday afternoon, as reported by AP.

As a result of the casino fire, at least 10 people were killed and 30 were injured. #Cambodia.

The flames quickly spread throughout the building, making it difficult to evacuate. Authorities are still searching for other victims at the scene.

— Yves (@YvesUitGent) December 29, 2022

“By Friday morning, 25 bodies had been recovered from the site,” according to Sek Sokhom, head of Banteay Meanchey province’s information department.

“Rescue teams recovered six more bodies from the charred rooms of the hotel-casino, bringing the number of the dead to 25 so far,” he said.

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.

The Grand Diamond City casino complex has 500 employees, and it had 1,000 customers Wednesday, according to a report from Soth Kimkolmony, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management.

It was unclear how many were present when the fire broke out, and how many managed to flee to safety.

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Friday expressed condolences for the victims, and urged authorities and high-rise building owners to strengthen fire safety and response.

“The fire had been completely extinguished, but a search operation for more victims, who are believed to be dead in the blaze, is still going on,” he said.

According to police, the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

However, an initial investigation found that the fire may have been caused by New Year’s holiday decorations that drew too much electricity, causing wires to overheat and burn, local authorities said.

(With inputs from AP & Xinhua)

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