death toll rises to 25
At least 25 people were killed in the night from Wednesday to Thursday in the impressive fire of a casino hotel on the border of Cambodia and Thailand, in the middle of the holiday season, according to a latest report authorities on Friday.
“Several other bodies were found this morning. The total is now at least 25 dead,” said Sek Sokhom of the Banteay Mean Chey province administration. The previous count reported 19 dead.
The fire broke out around 11:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. in France) at the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino, in the Cambodian city of Poipet (west).
Photos showed Thursday morning the perilous maneuver of firefighters who, using a crane, tried to extract from a building in flames people trapped on a balcony or the windowsill.
The complex, several stories high, as well as a footbridge connecting two buildings, were ravaged by fire.
The injured have been sent to hospitals in the neighboring Thai province of Sa Kaeo, a source told the Thai Foreign Ministry.
Thai firefighters were also mobilized, she added.
A member of a Thai rescue team said the fire quickly spread through the hotel-casino due to carpeting.
Some 400 people work at Grand Diamond City, Cambodian police said.
200 meters from Thailand
Foreign citizens were inside the building when the fire broke out, according to local media.
Citizens of Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in Asia, are prohibited by law from gambling in casinos.
But many casinos for foreigners have spread to border towns, such as Poipet, where a Thai clientele flocks. Casinos are also officially banned in Thailand, prompting players to cross the border.
The Grand Diamond City is about 200 meters from the border post, on the busy road that connects the Thai capital Bangkok to Siem Reap, a tourist town known for the nearby Angkor temples.
In recent months, several deadly fires in night establishments, regularly suspected of not respecting basic safety rules, have broken out in Southeast Asia.
In August, a fire at a nightclub near Pattaya, Thailand, killed 26 people, mostly young locals who came to party.
A month later, 32 people were killed in a karaoke bar fire in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.