Authorities Begin Demolition of Poipet Casino Destroyed in Fire

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Officers walk outside the burnt down Grand Diamond City Casino in Poipet city on December 31, 2022. (Michael Dickison/VOD)
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Cambodian authorities began the demolition of a Poipet casino that was destroyed in a massive fire last week, with a provincial spokesperson confirming there are no bodies left in the buildings.

The Grand Diamond City Casino caught on fire last week and was destroyed within hours, Authorities have reported 26 confirmed deaths, of which six people were yet to be identified. The dead include 16 Thai nationals, one Malaysian and one Nepalese, with a Cambodian family coming forth to say their relatives were still missing after the fire.

Sek Sokhom, the spokesperson of the provincial information department, said authorities had started the process of tearing down the buildings. He wasn’t sure how long it would take but that they wanted to finish it as soon as possible to prevent blockages at the international border. 

“We pull them down to rebuild it and this time we will construct them with a proper system and comply with standards,” he said, adding that structural engineers were assisting in the demolition.

For the time being, people were being directed through an alternative route to the border, he said, and big trucks carrying cargo were crossing the border at the Stung Bot checkpoint.

Sokhom added that six big safety boxes filled with cash had been recovered from the wreckage but did not have any more details about the money. He directed queries to deputy provincial governor Ngor Meng Chroun, who did not answer a reporter’s calls.

The spokesperson reiterated that disaster relief chief Kun Kim had confirmed last week that there were no remaining bodies in the buildings. He added that rescuers had used dogs to check if there were any human remains in the wreckage.

“The places where we cannot go into the building, we used the dogs to smell … the dogs know whether there is a body or not,” he said. 

Sokhom added that it was likely three of the six unidentified people were Cambodians and the three others were Thai nationals.

VOD spoke to Khim Vong last week and he said that his wife Sam Sreymom, who was working the night shift at the casino when the fire started, was missing. He had not heard from her since nor had any officials contacted him about her whereabouts.

Vong said on Tuesday that he still had not located his wife. He had spoken to authorities but they had given him no information about Sreymom.

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