26 dead in Cambodia hotel casino fire as rescue efforts end

17 Thai citzens among victims

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The final death toll in a fire at a Cambodia hotel casino has risen to 26 after rescue efforts ended on Friday.

The huge blaze broke out at the Grand Diamond City hotel and casino near the Thai border on Wednesday, with 17 Thai citizens among the dead.

More than 50 people were injured in the fire, which was still burning on Thursday morning.

Emergency teams called off rescue efforts as night fell on Friday after searching all of the multi-storey complex in Poipet.

Authorities said an electrical short circuit started the fire.

"Some people were burnt to death, some died because of a lack of oxygen, and some were burnt and died along exit ways," said Kun Kim, deputy chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

Rescue teams search the charred structure of the Grand Diamond City hotel and casino in Poipet.  AFP

Video footage showed people jumping from hotel windows to escape the flames.

Poipet in western Cambodia is opposite the more affluent Thai city of Aranyaprathet. The area is busy with cross-border trade and tourism.

A Thai casino worker said his father died in the fire after helping two women to escape.

"In helping them, he used a lot of energy and was choked by the smoke," he told AFP.

Firefighters took too long to extinguish the blaze, owing to the building's complex layout, said Mr Kim.

A lack of rescue equipment worsened the situation, he added.

Thai fire teams also tackled the blaze, and many of the wounded are being treated in hospitals across the border.

Thirteen people are in a critical condition, according to officials.

Casinos are illegal in Thailand but neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos host the lucrative industry.

Updated: December 31, 2022, 8:35 AM