A 7-year-old girl died early Saturday morning after her home caught fire in Prey Rokar village, Svay Rieng province.
According to Orn Khemrin of Svay Chrum district police, the young girl, Kem Chanthorn, was crushed beneath a fallen pillar during a blaze in the home she shared with her grandparents and her aunt.
“The victim’s body was found severely burnt,” confirmed Khemrin. “It looked like coal.”
Lem Sreypov, 15, the victim’s aunt, said she awoke around 1am to find a fire burning beneath the stairs at the back of the house.
Shocked, she ran from room to room screaming for help and ultimately jumped from a window to safety, she said.
“I tried to knock on people’s doors,” she recalled, “But the fire was so strong, and no one dared to help [my niece]”.
A primary investigation found the fire was caused by an “electric malfunction”, according to Sreypov and local police.
But Voeung Chanthy, 49, the victim’s grandmother and owner of the house, said she suspected foul play, as she and her husband were away in another province for work.
“Someone who hates my family might have set the fire,” she said. “It was not an electric malfunction.”
Chanthy said she lost everything on Saturday except for the dress she was wearing and the land where her home once stood.