10 Confirmed Dead in Cambodian Casino Hotel Fire

Casino hotel on fire. ( Photo: Pito Smos Sne)

The blaze that broke out at a casino in Poipet, Cambodia on Wednesday night claimed the lives of at least ten people, but the death toll is expected to rise.

CNN reports that 10 people in the casino have been found dead, and 30 were injured in a fire at Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino in Poipet near Thailand.

Patcharin Thaenthong, leader of a Thai rescue team who responded to emergency calls from Cambodian authorities, said some of the victims appeared to have died from smoke inhalation. He said, “When we arrived, we could not get in because the fire had already taken over (most of) the buildings.”

Around 700 Thai citizens were rescued from the location and sent to hospitals in Thailand, according to authorities.

Mr. Patcharin believes the fire began in a restaurant on the ground floor before spreading throughout the complex. Some people ran to the roof with the mistaken belief that  Cambodian rescue teams would be using cranes to evacuate them, but when the cranes did not arrive, some leapt towards the ground in despair.

One Thai national was also killed in the fire, said a Thai official.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Sithi Loh said 300 police officers, 11 fire trucks, and some helicopters had been deployed to salvage the situation.

The Nation Thailand attributes the cause of fire in the 355-room hotel casino to a gas tank explosion close to Wednesday midnight. The fire was extinguished by firefighters by Thursday afternoon. The casino is believed to be owned by fugitive Thai politician Vatana Asavahame.