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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Complaints filed over blaze

A police officer stands in the charred remains of a nightclub in Siem Reap
A police officer stands in the charred remains of a nightclub in Siem Reap on Tuesday during an investigation into the cause of the blaze, which claimed five lives. Thik Kaliyann

Complaints filed over blaze

All the families of the four Cambodians who died in a blaze at Siem Reap’s trendy Hip Hop Club filed complaints to the provincial court yesterday, said Thorng Sakun, deputy chief of the Siem Reap provincial police.

The families demanded $3,000 to $4,000 in compensation, Sakun said, adding that he had not thus far received any complaints from the family of Tom Ricketson, the 32-year-old Australian who was the fire’s fifth victim.

Tom Ricketson’s uncle James Ricketson told the Post yesterday that “the opportunity to ask for compensation has been offered”, but that Tom’s brother, who arrived in Cambodia yesterday, is still considering it.

The family "might take it as an act of solidarity with the other [Cambodian] families”, said James, adding his nephew’s body would likely arrive in Australia in a week’s time.

Police confirmed that the blaze, which killed five people and left two injured, was started by faulty electrical wiring.

“According to our investigators, the fire started in the club’s ceiling. There was a short circuit. The club’s owner and the staff also said the fire started on the ceiling where there was a lot of electrical wiring,” Sakun said.

Many people gathered in front of the club yesterday morning wondering whether more people had died because there were still 20 motorbikes left unattended in the club’s vicinity, but Sakun said those motorbikes belonged to authorities who came to inspect the scene.

“To those who are still suspicious about how many people exactly died in the blaze, I would like to confirm only five were killed by the fire and two women are still staying in hospital.”

Art Sarath, who suffered serious injuries on both hands and light burns on her face, told the Post that on Tuesday afternoon a representative of the Hip Hop Club came to the hospital to apologise and pay for her medical expenses.

“That was what I wanted from them [the club], so I decided not to file a complaint,” she said.

All the bodies that were found have now been identified. The deceased women are Chea Sreyny, 32, Cheng Savien, 33, and Souen Savoun, 31, and the two men are Cambodian Prum Phiron, 31, and Ricketson.

The Hip Hop Club fire began at 2:45am on Tuesday morning and spurred accusations that the club was ill-prepared to deal with such an accident.

Siem Reap city governor So Platong initially told reporters the club only had one small door, but backtracked on that claim after the club’s co-owner Lee Kong Vong insisted there were four yesterday.

“Sorry, I meant there was only one front door,” Platong said.

Kong Vong said the deaths occurred despite staff’s attempts to help.

“Those injured and dead were really so drunk they could not control themselves; one was in the bathroom and one was asleep on the sofa.”

Kong Vong said he was discussing funeral and compensation arrangements with the families of the victims.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

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