UPDATED: Reports of Multiple Deaths as Huge Explosion Rocks Central Phnom Penh

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An explosion in central Phnom Penh could be seen across the city on July 18, 2020 (Matt Surrusco/VOD)

UPDATED 6:44 p.m. — Officers at the scene of a huge explosion in Phnom Penh raised their estimate of deaths to three on Saturday evening.

Loud explosions and building-high flames could be seen and heard across central Phnom Penh on Saturday afternoon as police blocked off streets around Daun Penh district.

Officials at the scene told VOD earlier that two people had died in the explosion: one girl and one man. A woman was also injured, said the officer, who did not give his name.

Kim Vutha, chief of Daun Penh’s district security guards, told reporters after 6 p.m. that a third person had died in the fire, without providing further details except that it was not the injured woman. A firefighter, who did not give his name, also said there had been three deaths.

The explosion happened at around 4:30 p.m.

According to a firefighter, two buildings were destroyed: a shop that refilled gas canisters, and the pet-fish store next door.

Dozens of police officers, at least 12 fire trucks and an ambulance were at the scene of the explosion on St. 63 between streets 178 and 180.

The front of the building had been blown out, while a small fire continued to burn at around 6 p.m. as fire trucks sprayed water around the area.

Gas canisters could be seen outside the building.

Dozens of onlookers gathered around street corners as authorities directed traffic on the surrounding roads. Phnom Penh deputy governor Mean Chanyada was also at the scene.

At about 6:44 p.m., officers at the scene applauded, with the fire apparently put out.

Updated at 6:14 p.m. with information from a firefighter.

Updated at 6:44 p.m. with report of third death from Kim Vutha and firefighter.

Fire fighters spray gas canisters pulled from the site of the explosion on July 18, 2020 (Matt Surrusco/VOD)
Fire trucks arrive following an explosion in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on July 18. (Matt Surrusco)
Fire trucks arrive on the corner of streets 63 and 178 following an explosion in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on July 18, 2020. (Matt Surrusco/VOD)
Gas canisters were removed from the site of an explosion on July 18, 2020 (Matt Surrusco/VOD).
People gather near the site of an explosion on July 18, 2020 in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district (Matt Surrusco/VOD)

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