Casino fire kills at least 2 in Cambodia border town
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
At least two people were killed in a fire Wednesday that engulfed a casino hotel in a Cambodia border town popular with gamblers from neighboring Thailand, rescue officials said.
Thai rescue workers told CNN they responded to emergency calls from Cambodian authorities to help tackle the blaze on the third floor of the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino in Poipet.
Patcharin Thaenthong, leader of the Thai rescue team, said the two casualties appeared to have died from smoke inhalation.
“When we arrived, we could not get in because the fire had already taken over (most of) the buildings,” he said.
Approximately 700 Thai citizens were rescued and sent to hospitals in Thailand, according to authorities.
Photos from the scene show huge bright amber flames and plumes of smoke rising from the complex.
It remains unclear whether the fire has been fully extinguished.
Patcharin said he could still see large amounts of smoke, but was no longer seeing flames.
Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Sithi Loh said 300 police officers, 11 fire trucks and a number of helicopters had been deployed.
The cause of the fire remains unclear and the hotel’s narrow and elevated layout had made it difficult to fully assess the status of the blaze, he said.
Peerapan Sirsakorn, another Thai rescue worker at the scene, said the fire may have started at a restaurant on the third floor, above the casino.
Poipet, a transport hub between Cambodia’s Siem Reap and the Thai capital Bangkok, is known for its many casinos.
Almost all forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, though it remains a popular vice in the country with many Thais crossing the border to gamble legally.