Residents jumped from second-storey windows yesterday to escape a gas explosion that badly burned nine female factory workers as they were preparing a meal on their day off in Choam Chao commune in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.
Commune chief Soth Sat said that six small, corroded canisters of cooking fuel exploded, burning the faces and bodies of the women, who were making rice on their one-day Meak Bochea holiday.
“During their holiday from the factory, they were having a rest in their rental house, and then they cooked a meal with gas,” he said.
“It got so hot, it made six other old gas bottles nearby explode.”
The victims were immediately sent to Calmette Hospital.
Neighbours managed to extinguish the fire before fire trucks arrived, Sat continued, but some property in the house had been destroyed.
Eighteen-year-old Srey Vy, one of the victims who was sent to Calmette, said the scene after the explosion was chaotic, with workers who lived nearby running out of their rooms, and others taking desperate measures to escape the building where the explosion occurred.
“Two female workers jumped from the second storey of the rental house, and were injured,” she said.
“I saw this; they were shocked and ran out.”
Vy said that the burns to the women’s faces were especially hard to bear.
“We were proud of our looks,” she said.
“We did not expect this to happen.”
Neth Vantha, chief of the Municipal Police Fire Brigade, said that most fires are caused by either faulty wiring or gas explosions.
“Residents have to be careful about gas explosions and electricity in order to avoid fire incidents,” he said.
A fire resulting from a gas explosion last July at the Phsar Touch damaged or destroyed 76 houses and businesses and left nearly 100 families homeless.
According to a report from the Ministry of Interior, there were 442 fires in 2012 – a slight increase from 2011.
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