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Death toll from fires dips in 2016: report

A man hoses water onto the remnants of a fire in Phnom Penh earlier this year. This was one of 612 fires across the country in 2016.
A man hoses water onto the remnants of a fire in Phnom Penh earlier this year. This was one of 612 fires across the country in 2016. Pha Lina

Death toll from fires dips in 2016: report

At least 14 people were killed and 54 more injured in more than 600 fires across the country, according to the 2016 annual report from the Ministry of Interior’s fire department obtained yesterday.

According to the report, over the course of 2016, there were 612 reported incidents of fires nationwide, 22 cases more than had been reported in 2015. Meanwhile, fires this year affected some 760 houses, a substantial increase from the previous year, when fewer than 600 houses were damaged or destroyed.

Figures on deaths and injuries showed mixed results, with deaths down from 2015, but injuries up. “However, the number of deaths declined by 21 people compared with 2015, when the death toll reached 35 people, while the injuries doubled,” the report reads.

Net Vantha, director of the fire department at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that over the course of the year, “41 percent [of fires] were caused by electrical malfunctions, 38 percent by carelessness with incense sticks and candles, and for 21 percent, they have not found the cause of the blaze”.

Vantha added that Cambodia currently has 250 fire engines, but of those, some 40 are out of circulation due to disrepair. “Though we have modern fire engines, they will not be highly effective if there isn’t good cooperation from the people and involved parties,” he added.

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