Casino blaze at Cambodia-Thailand border kills 7, dozens hospitalized

By Reuters   December 28, 2022 | 11:21 pm PT
Casino blaze at Cambodia-Thailand border kills 7, dozens hospitalized
A blaze engulfs a high-end casino in Poipet town of Banteay Meanchey province on the Thai border on December 28. Photo courtesy of Cambodian police
An overnight fire at a casino complex in a Cambodian border town has killed at least seven people, and left 53 injured and eight missing, authorities in neighboring Thailand said on Thursday.

The fire broke out at about midnight on Wednesday at Grand Diamond City, a casino and hotel in the town of Poipet, according to Cambodian police. They made no mention of casualties.

It was not immediately clear what started the blaze.

Poipet's casinos are hugely popular with short-term visitors from Thailand, where gambling is illegal and unlicensed casinos operate underground.

At least 32 people were being treated in hospitals in Sa Kaeo province across the border, Thailand's health ministry said. Provincial authorities said one Thai national had died in hospital.

Cambodian police said the fire was under control and hundreds of personnel from the military, police and rescue teams had been deployed.

Footage shared by the Ruamkatanya Foundation, a volunteer Thai rescue team that assisted in the operation, showed a crew in the fire escape stairwell of a building putting on respirator masks and fire-resistant hoods before entering a smoke-filled corridor.

It showed a crowd of people in daylight together with firefighters at a rooftop bar, shielding their mouths from smoke that was pouring out from doors and windows of lower floors.

Chhay Kim Khoeun,Cambodian national police spokesperson, declined to comment on casualties and said authorities were still working to put out the fire.

Provincial and hospital officials in Cambodia could not immediately be reached.

Cambodia's Fresh News showed images of the facade of a casino on Thursday morning blackened by smoke, with fires still burning on the ground floor and charred debris on the pavement outside.

Video footage showed the fire raging during the night, with flames engulfing multiple parts of the building and thick smoke billowing out.

Casinos are a key part of Cambodia's important tourism industry and a draw for visitors from Asian countries where gambling is banned.Cambodiahascasinocomplexes in Phnom Penh and along its borders with Vietnam and Thailand.

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