Cambodian casino fire kills 19, dozens missing - Naijarecent
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Cambodian casino fire kills 19, dozens missing

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Officials said on Thursday that 19 people were killed and up to 30 were missing after a massive fire ripped through a casino-hotel complex in a Cambodian town near the Thai border.

Around 400 people were inside the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in Poipet when the fire broke out around midnight, and up to 30 people were still missing.

Sek Sokhom, head of the Banteay Meanchey provincial information department said “the number of deaths may reach more than 20. Sixty people had been injured.”

Video footage showed the fire being put out by Thursday afternoon and a crew putting on respirator masks and fire-resistant hoods before entering a smoke-filled corridor in the building’s fire escape stairwell.

Khieu Sopheak, an interior ministry spokesperson, had earlier said it was not clear how many people were still inside the charred building.

“We don’t know how many are trapped inside and now we are only trying to save lives,” he said, adding that the cause of the fire was still unclear.

Casinos are key part of Cambodia’s tourism industry and economy, drawing visitors from Asian nations that ban gambling.

Casinos in Poipet are hugely popular with short-term Thai visitors in particular as gambling is illegal and unlicensed casinos operate underground in the neighbouring country.

At least 25 people were being treated in hospitals in Sa Kaeo province across the border, Thai authorities said.

Provincial authorities said one Thai national had died in hospital and 70 per cent of those affected showed symptoms of smoke inhalation.

Cambodian police said hundreds of personnel from military, police and rescue teams joined the rescue effort.

Nighttime video footage showed flames engulfing parts of the building amid thick billows of smoke.

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

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