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Gas tanker explosion

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Uy Nousereimony and Heng Chivoan

AT least five cars and five homes where wooden furniture was sold were gutted by a fire in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district, though officials reported no major injuries.

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said the blaze, which sent up a plume of black smoke over the city at around midday, started when a truck carrying about 8,000 litres of petrol exploded and set fire to nearby houses. “We do not know the total cost of the destruction yet,” he said.

Koy Nol, deputy director of the statistics office at the Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department, said the fire began at about 12:10pm, and that more than 20 fire trucks converged on the scene, using 60 tanks of water to douse the flames. Touch Naruth said one firefighter received minor injuries from the blaze, but that otherwise there were no other casualties.

Yar Kim Y, commander of the Phnom Penh Military Police, said he was not sure of the cause of the explosion, but confirmed that the fire was started by the petrol truck.

“The fire was caused by a truck containing petrol when it was delivering petrol to a shop called Socheat, near the Sokimex gas station,” he said. Yar Kim Y said authorities took around an hour to get the fire under control. A total of five vehicles were destroyed.

A bystander who gave his name as Heng said his relative’s car was completely destroyed by the fire after petrol dripping from the truck was ignited by its exhaust. “A black Lexus LX 270, costing more than US$30,000, was consumed by the fire,” he said.

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