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Dramatic images show people trying to flee massive fire at Cambodia hotel casino that left at least 16 dead


Dramatic images have emerged showing people trying to flee a massive fire that tore through a hotel casino overnight in Cambodia, leaving at least 16 dead, with the death toll feared to rise. 

The inferno, which erupted at the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in Poipet around midnight Wednesday, burned for around 14 hours before it was put out. The property is located just hundreds of feet away from the country’s border with Thailand. 

"Oh, please help rescue them. Pump water... pump water," onlookers reportedly were heard shouting in a video posted by Cambodia's firefighting agency. The footage, according to the Associated Press, showed people trapped on the roof of the hotel complex, which is more than a dozen stories tall at its highest point. 

At least one man was seen falling as the flames reached the roof. 

Fire burns around people on a ledge on the side of the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in Poipet, Cambodia on Dec. 29.

Fire burns around people on a ledge on the side of the Grand Diamond City casino and hotel in Poipet, Cambodia on Dec. 29.(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of Fire Prevention, Extinguishing and Rescue posted that calls for help were heard from the 13th, 14th and 15th floors at 4 a.m., and hands were seen waving from windows as well as a mobile phone's flashlight signaling from inside the complex. 

"The fire was massive, and was inside the casino, so it was difficult for our water cannons to reach it," observed a firefighter on the video posted online by the fire department.  

The province's deputy governor, Ngor Meng Chroun, told Cambodia's Bayon Radio the death toll had reached 16, with about 50 other people injured. The number of deaths appeared likely to rise as more bodies of those trapped inside were discovered and critically hurt people succumbed to their injuries. 



The Grand Diamond City casino and hotel fire lasted for around 14 hours before it was put out.

The Grand Diamond City casino and hotel fire lasted for around 14 hours before it was put out. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Banteay Meanchey police chief Sithi Loh said 360 emergency personnel and 11 firetrucks had been sent to the scene of the fire, whose cause was not yet known. The casino employed about 400 workers. 

"Right now, we are trying to bring the dead bodies from the building down. I don’t think there will be any survivors because of very thick smoke. Even we all (the rescue staff) have to wear proper gear when we go inside the building, otherwise we cannot breathe at all," said Montri Khaosa-ard, a staff member of Thailand Ruamkatanyu Foundation, a social welfare organization that sends volunteers to the sites of emergencies. 

Thailand's public television network, Thai PBS, reported that 50 Thais, both staff and customers, had been trapped inside the casino complex. It reported that Cambodian authorities requested help to deal with the fire from Thailand, which sent five firetrucks and 10 rescue vans. 

First responders from nearby Thailand are among those working the scene of the fire Thursday.

First responders from nearby Thailand are among those working the scene of the fire Thursday. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

Poipet in western Cambodia is opposite the city of Aranyaprathet in more affluent Thailand, and there is busy cross-border trade and tourism. 

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

Casinos are illegal in Thailand, but neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos host the lucrative industry. Cambodia has an especially active casino industry because the Southeast Asian country is also a popular tourist destination with convenient international connections. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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