CAMBODIAN soldiers took full control of the fire-gutted casino-hotel complex at Poipet border town, just across from Aranyaprathet subdistrict, Sa Kaeo province, this afternoon (Dec. 31) after ordering Thai rescuers to withdraw at 6 p.m. yesterday, Naewna newspaper said.
Cambodia’s Military Region 5 sent troops to block off the three buildings of the Grand Diamond City Hotel and Casino. where the inferno started at around midnight on Thursday Dec. 29 and was finally put out 10 hours later with the assistance of Thai firefighters and rescuers, with outsiders strictly forbidden to enter.
This military region will be sending engineers to join Cambodia’s Disaster Service in searching for remaining victims.
A Cambodian military officer said his team was waiting for the Engineering Department in Phnom Penh to first inspect the structures and determine how safe they are before moving in to clear the area.
At the coordination centre assisting Thai people affected by this huge fire, located within the parking lot of Aranyaprathet municipality office in front of the Khlong Luek border checkpoint, people were still flocking in today to inform the authorities about their missing relatives.
Col. Anupong Moonbanchop, the head of 13th Ranger Forces Regiment, Pol. Col. Pattanachai Pamornphiboon, superintendent of Klong Luek police station, and other senior officials were present to help those affected by this disaster.
Col. Anupong said aside from the 17 bodies of Thai victims brought back to the country, with seven returning yesterday, there remains seven more bodies at Wat Trat in Poipet, three at Sisophon Hospital and six at Poipet Hospital.
He added that he is coordinating with Cambodian authorities to bring back two more bodies of Thais today.
Cambodian soldiers move in to take control of the gutted casino-hotel complex and bodies of Thai victims being brought back to the country. Photos: Naewna