Up to 10 people have died in a fire at a Cambodian casino hotel on the Thai border, with pictures showing desperate groups huddled on ledges as fierce flames engulfed them.
The fire at the Grand Diamond City hotel-casino in Poipet broke out at around 23:30 local time (16:30 GMT) on Wednesday night, Cambodian police said.
An interim police report seen by AFP said “about 10 people were killed and 30 people were injured”, adding that about 400 people were believed to be working at the site.
Images obtained by AFP showed the building engulfed in flames, with firefighters struggling to contain the raging blaze and rescuers trying to pull people off a burning ledge.
In one clip, an unidentified man is seen sitting on a window ledge as smoke billows from the window behind him. In another, a group of people huddle on a ledge as flames near them.
Local media reported that foreign nationals were inside the casino at the time of the fire.
A Thai foreign ministry source said they were coordinating closely with local authorities, with the injured taken to hospitals in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.
“The authorities have been trying to control the fire, even sending fire trucks from the Thai side,” they said.
A volunteer with the Thai rescue group Ruamkatanyu Foundation said the fire started on the first floor but quickly spread through carpets, leaping through the multi-storey building.
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and its citizens are officially prohibited from playing in casinos.
There are numerous hotel-casinos clustered along the Thailand-Cambodia border, with Poipet a popular holiday destination for visitors to Thailand, where most forms of gambling are illegal.
The fire follows two other deadly incidents at entertainment venues in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam in 2022.
In August, a fire broke out in a Thai nightclub that killed 26 people and injured many more.
And in September, a fire broke out in southern Vietnam, killing 32 people at a karaoke bar.
Concerns have long been raised about the region’s lax attitude to health and safety standards, particularly in its countless bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues.
A massive inferno broke out at a New Year’s party at Bangkok’s posh Santika club in 2009, killing 67 people and injuring more than 200.
Santika’s owner was jailed for three years for the fire, which started when fireworks were lit while a rock band was playing on stage.