Cambodia: Deadly Hotel-Casino Fire Near Thai Border

At least 19 people were killed when a massive fire broke out Wednesday at the Grand Diamond City Casino and Hotel in the Cambodian town of Poipet, which is located near the Thai border.

Cambodia: Deadly Hotel-Casino Fire Near Thai Border
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • At least 19 people were killed when a massive fire broke out Wednesday at the Grand Diamond City Casino and Hotel in the Cambodian town of Poipet, which is located near the Thai border.
  • Over 300 responders and 11 firetrucks were reportedly sent to douse the blaze, which also left 70 people critically injured. Approximately 700 Thai citizens were rescued and sent to the hospital.
  • At the Cambodian government's request, Thailand also sent five fire trucks and ten rescue vans across the border to assist. An investigation is underway to find the cause of the blaze, which was finally extinguished at 11 a.m. local time on Thursday.
  • According to an eyewitness, the flames started in the casino kitchen area before quickly spreading upwards. About 50 people were trapped inside the sky bar on the 17th floor.
  • In a clip posted by Cambodia's firefighting agency, onlookers could be heard screaming to rescue people trapped on the multistorey complex's roof. Videos posted on social media showed people jumping from the upper floors of the flaming building.
  • Thursday's fire follows two fatal incidents in entertainment venues in neighboring nations. In August, an inferno at a Thai nightclub killed at least 26 and injured dozens more; in September, a blaze at a karaoke bar in Vietnam claimed 32 lives.

Sources: BBC News, CNN, Sky News, Daily Sabah, and SCMP.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by The Diplomat. Casinos are illegal in Thailand, but they are an important part of Cambodia’s tourism industry. Poipet is especially famous for its busy cross-border trade, tourism, and countless casinos. Local authorities must answer why nothing had been done to improve health and fire safety in the area despite repeated complaints. This is a national disgrace.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by The Guardian. It's too early to jump to conclusions. Potential factors could include faulty wiring, criminal intent, or government apathy. Right now, the nation is in mourning, and the focus must remain on rescuing the trapped and saving as many lives as possible instead of casting blame. Due process will ultimately yield the truth.