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Cambodian casino fire kills 19, dozens more missing


POIPET: At least 19 people are dead and 30 are missing after a massive fire consumed a casino-hotel complex in a Cambodian town on the Thai border, officials said on Thursday.
About 400 employees and patrons were at Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in the town of Poipet when the fire broke out around midnight and up to 30 people were still missing.
“The death toll could reach more than 20,” he said. Sek Sokhomleader Banteay Meanchey Provincial Information Office.
He said 60 people were injured.
Video footage shows the fire being brought under control on Thursday afternoon and a group of employees on the building’s emergency stairs wearing gas masks and fire helmets before entering a smoke-filled hallway.
Sopheakan interior ministry spokesman, earlier said it was unclear how many people were still inside the charred building.
“We don’t know how many people are trapped inside and now we’re just trying to save lives,” he said, adding that the cause of the fire was still unclear.
An important part of Cambodia’s tourism industry, vital to its economy, casinos in the capital of Cambodia Phnom Penh and on the border with Vietnam and Thailand is a tourist attraction from Asian countries where gambling is prohibited.
Casinos in Poipet are especially popular with short-term Thai visitors because gambling is illegal and unlicensed casinos operate underground in the neighboring country.
At least 25 people are being treated in hospitals in Sa Kaeo province across the border, Thai authorities said.
The provincial government said one Thai citizen died in hospital and 70% of those affected had symptoms of smoke inhalation.
Cambodian police said hundreds of personnel from the army, police and rescue teams were involved in the rescue effort.
Nighttime video footage showed flames engulfing parts of the building amid thick columns of smoke.
It also shows people crammed with firefighters at a rooftop bar during the day, covering their mouths from the smoke billowing from the doors and windows of the lower floors.

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