POIPET, Cambodia ( Associated Press) — The death toll from a massive fire at a hotel-casino in western Cambodia rose to 25 on Friday, as the search for victims resumed, officials said.
The fire at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the Thai border city of Poipet started around midnight on Wednesday and was extinguished after more than 12 hours on Thursday afternoon.
According to Sek Sokhom, director of the information department of Banteay Meanchey province, 25 bodies had been recovered from the scene as of Friday morning. He said six bodies were found on Friday morning, some in his room and some on the stairs.
He said more than 60 people were injured, and the death toll was expected to rise as rescuers were able to reach victims trapped under the rubble or in locked rooms.
The Grand Diamond City complex had 500 employees and 1,000 customers on Wednesday, according to a report by Soth Kimkolmony, a spokesman for Cambodia’s National Emergency Management Commission. It was not immediately clear how many people were inside the building at the time of the fire and how many managed to escape safely.
Chaotic rescue efforts have made it difficult to obtain an exact number of victims, and many of those rescued were flown across the border for treatment in neighboring Thailand, which has better medical facilities.
Thai and Cambodian rescue teams have been working hand in hand to search the 17-storey complex, but halted their efforts overnight at the dangerously damaged site.
Many of the people inside, both customers and employees, came from neighboring Thailand, which sent fire engines and emergency personnel to help.
The Provincial Office for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation of Sa Kaeo in Thailand has recorded 11 dead – all Thai – and 109 injured, of whom 57 are hospitalised.
According to preliminary investigation, the fire may have started due to excessive electricity consumption due to Christmas and New Year decorations, which caused the wires to overheat and burn, according to local officials.