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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Nicola Smith

Death toll from casino blaze expected to increase as dozens still missing inside

Fire engulfs part of the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the town of Poipet, Cambodia. PhotoL Fresh News via AP

Guests jumped to their death from the balconies of a casino in Cambodia yesterday as a huge blaze engulfed the building.

The death toll from the fire at the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino in Poipet was last stated to be 19. However, authorities warned that it was likely to increase as they searched the charred corridors for dozens of missing people.

“Two people died immediately when they hit the ground and around four to five [others] broke their legs,” said Peerapan Srisakorn, from Thailand’s Aranyaprathet Rescue Foundation.

Videos posted on social media showed people falling from a roof after they were trapped by flames. Photos from the scene show people desperately huddled on ledges.

Cambodia’s firefighting agency said calls for help were heard from the 13th, 14th and 15th floors at 4am.

At least 70 people were injured in the inferno. Cambodian, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Vietnamese citizens were among the victims and a Buddhist temple was being used to receive their bodies.

Sek Sokhom, head of the Banteay Meanchey provincial information department, told Cambodia’s VOD news service that the hotel’s electric system for rooms and elevators may have trapped people as the electricity tripped when the fire started at around midnight on Wednesday.

“When there was a blackout, the elevator got stuck, rooms were shut and we cannot enter,” he said. “When we can open the rooms, there will be more deaths [reported].”

The cause of the fire is not yet known. Early reports suggest it may have been an electrical fire and authorities are investigating whether New Year decorations may have been responsible. 

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