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Cambodian stores go up in Thai fire

Twenty clothing and furniture stores owned by Cambodians burned down during a massive fire in the Rong Kleu Market just across the Thai border from Banteay Meanchey province on Tuesday night, border police said.

The fire, which started around 10:30pm, was caused by an electrical problem, according to Poipet International Checkpoint director An Vanak.

"In the report, which was delivered by Thailand to our authorities on Wednesday morning, they confirmed that the fire was caused by an electricity malfunction," he said.

Flames burned for two hours before firefighters could contain the fire.

"Thai authorities estimated the loss to be more than 10 million baht ($308,000)," Vanak added.

Cambodian store owner Veng, 32, told the Post on the phone that two of his clothing stalls, which cost around $9,000, were devoured completely by the fire.

"This the second blaze in a year, and every blaze, only Cambodian stores were burnt down," said Veng, who has worked in the market for six years.

"The Cambodian vendors have never been compensated by Thai authorities or market owners for the previous blaze. We need someone to take responsibility this time and pay us the compensation."

Vanak said that he has no authority to demand compensation from Thai authorities. He is, however, currently preparing a report asking provincial authorities, involved ministries and the Cambodia Consul Office in Sa Kaeo province in Thailand to intervene in this case.

Neth Sary, Cambodian Consul Official at Sa Kaeo province, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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