At Least 16 Dead in Hotel Fire – Tourists Jumped to Their Deaths

At least 16 people confirmed dead and 58 others unaccounted for after 14-hour blaze at casino complex near Thai border.

Dozens of Thai tourists are feared dead after a massive blaze ripped through a casino complex in a Cambodian border town, with reports of people throwing themselves from windows and the roof of the burning building.

The blaze at the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino in Poipet began in a lower-floor restaurant at around midnight and quickly climbed up the 15-story building, fanned by heavy winds. Firefighters, including Thai crews from across the border, took about 14 hours—until 2 p.m. on Thursday—to bring the flames under control, by which point the building was a burned-out wreck.

Local officials said that 16 people had been confirmed dead, with 50 others injured. At least 58 others were unaccounted for and it was unclear how many more might have been trapped in their rooms. At least 25 people had been taken for treatment in Thailand.

“Right now, we are trying to bring the dead bodies from the building down,” Montri Khaosa-ard, who works for a Thai disaster rescue organization, told CNN. “I don’t think there will be any survivors because of very thick smoke.”

Many of those trapped by the flames were said to have climbed up to the roof in the vain hope that they might be rescued by crane. Rescue workers said some had jumped to their deaths.

“Two people died immediately when they hit the ground and around four to five (others) broke their legs,” Peerapan Srisakorn, from the Aranyaprathet Rescue Foundation, told CNN.

“It was very windy last night,” he added. “The fire spread up quickly to the upper floors and then to every side, engulfing the whole building.”

Poipet, which lies opposite the Thai city of Aranyaprathet, is a major draw for tourists from Thailand, where gambling is all but illegal. The Diamond City complex—which is just a few yards from the border checkpoint—employs about 400 staff, mostly Thais, to cater for the visitors.

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