The death toll has continued to rise after a fire broke out at a casino hotel in Cambodia. So far, the remains of 19 people have been found, a spokesman for the authorities in Banteay Meanchey province said on Thursday. However, the number of victims could increase further, since the fire brigade had not yet reached many parts of the burned-out building complex.
The fire at the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino in Poipet on the border with neighboring Thailand broke out around midnight on Wednesday for reasons that have not yet been clarified, local media reported. Some reports said there was a gas explosion in the kitchen area, but there was no official confirmation.
Videos on media and social networks show people trying to escape the flames on window sills, some even jumping off the ground. "Two people died instantly when they hit the ground," a Thai rescuer told CNN. "Four to five others broke their legs." Others are said to have taken refuge on the roof of the building.
The fire apparently broke out on the first floor and then spread quickly, it said. The flames would have surrounded the hotel and also spread to neighboring buildings. The fire was brought under control after around nine hours. More than 300 firefighters and helicopters were deployed. Rescue workers also rushed to help from the nearby Thai city of Aranyaprathet.
The Cambodian police initially spoke of around ten dead and 30 injured. In the neighboring Thai province of Sa Kaeo, more than 50 victims of the fire were hospitalized, according to the local authorities.
Thai broadcaster PBS reported that the hotel on the border is popular with Thais because gambling is banned in their country. Poipet has around 100,000 inhabitants and is around 350 kilometers from Phnom Penh, the capital of authoritarian Cambodia.