Multiple Fatalities as Massive Fire Rips Through Cambodian Hotel-Casino

  • Footage shows people jumping from the building to escape the flames
  • Beside the ten fatalities, another 30 people got injured, some critically
  • The majority of the deceased are Thai and Cambodian employees
  • Brutal exploitation of casino workers by Chinese crime gangs made headlines in 2022
Poipet on Cambodia/Thailand border
At least ten people have died and over 30 casualties reported after a massive fire broke out at a Cambodian hotel-casino in Poipet (pictured above), a city on the Thailand border. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

At least ten dead

A year in which Chinese crime casinos inflicted a reign of terror across Southeast Asia is ending with further tragedy after at least ten people died in a massive fire at a Cambodian hotel casino on the Thailand border.

fire broke out at the Grand Diamond City hotel-casino

According to police, the fire broke out at the Grand Diamond City hotel-casino in Poipet at about 11:30pm on Wednesday. Entrepreneur Gurbaksh Singh Chahal shared footage via Twitter of the horrific blaze taken from inside the casino:

Multiple videos taken of the fire show people trapped inside the burning complex, with some jumping from the building to escape the flames.

The Guardian cites Major General Sithi Loh, police chief in Banteay Meanchey province, as confirming the ten fatalities, with another 30 people injured, some critically.

The cause of the fire remains to be determined.

Multiple Thai victims

Reports state around 400 staff were working at the Grand Diamond casino and got trapped inside when the fire broke out. Thailand’s Public Broadcasting Service also reported that “50 Thais, both staff and customers, were trapped inside the casino complex,” which covers 62,000 sq feet.

The Phnom Penh Post cites Poipet administrative chief Nhem Phoeng as saying the majority of the workers were Thai nationals, with most of the deceased being Thai and Cambodian employees.

Poipet is a major crossing point between Cambodia and Thailand. Despite the nearest Thai city of Aranyaprathet being more affluent than its Cambodian counterpart, the casino city lures workers and bettors from Thailand because well-paid jobs are scarce and gambling is mostly illegal in Thailand.

Thailand sent five firetrucks and ten rescue vans to help fight the blaze after Cambodian authorities asked their neighbor for help to deal with the fire. In total, 11 firetrucks and 360 emergency personnel responded to the scene, where the fire was still burning Thursday morning.

Casinos from hell

Media reports reveal that emergency services transferred some of the injured people to hospitals in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province. Thai PBS confirmed this, stating that Aranyaprathet Hospital’s emergency ward was full.

Unlike Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore have all legalized gambling and built casino complexes. Chinese crime gangs, however, operate many of these casinos. In 2022, the Chinese gangs drew the world’s attention to their brutal exploitation of casino workers lured from across Southeast Asia, highlighted in August by a group of 40 who swam across a raging river to escape a casino in Cambodia.