A fire at a Poipet casino killed at least 25 people and injured 90 according to an estimate from Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesperson Sek Sokhom at 3 p.m. on December 30.
The fire started around 11 p.m. on Wednesday at the Grand Diamond City hotel and casino in O’Chrov commune of Banteay Meanchey province.
The exact number of deaths and injuries remain unclear, according to Sokhom. Some people had died due to electric shocks, he said.
Kun Kim, vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, told CamboJA that there were between 300 and 400 people trapped in the casino and authorities have rescued some of them.
“At the time of the incident, a lot of people had been evacuated and some remained,” said Kim, adding some victims had been sent to hospitals in Thailand and Cambodia.
Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told CamboJA that by the morning he had received information that at least 30 people died but he could not confirm the higher death toll as of the afternoon, deferring to provincial authorities.
Sokhom said he could not yet share the extent of the damage or an official death and injury toll as authorities struggled to contain the flames.
“We use all our resources like fire engines from the province and city,” Sokhom said. “We also requested the fire engine from Thailand to solve this problem.”
There were Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Indonesian guests staying at the Grand Diamond, he said.
Sokhom said he received information suggesting the overuse of electricity due to Christmas light decorations had caused the fire, which began on the first floor.
“As the unofficial assumption from [the firefighters], decorations on the tree for the Christmas event made the use of electricity overload and caused electrical failure,” Sokhom said.
This was the first fire of such scale at Poipet city, Sokhom said.
Banteay Meanchey Province Deputy Governor Ngor Mengchruon could not be reached for comment.
Banteay Meanchey Provincial Gendarmerie Commander General Born Bin told CamboJA that authorities are dealing with the fire.
Provincial Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankea told CamboJA that he saw “rescue teams from our side and Thailand side carrying injured and dead bodies into ambulances, and some dead, some injured people were brought to the hospital.”
Updated: Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopheak contacted CamboJA at 5:53p.m to correct his previous statement regarding the number of deaths and injuries, clarifying that more than 10 people had died and more than 30 people were injured by 3p.m., not 60 dead and 100 injured.
Updated: Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesperson Sek Sokhom told CamboJA at 2:30 p.m. on December 29 that at least 60 people had died and 100 were injured. He told CamboJA on December 30 that this number was inaccurate. The article has been changed to reflect the error.
(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)