A fire at a computer shop in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district killed four people late Monday night, according to local authorities.
Chheang Panara, deputy municipal police chief, said that an electrical malfunction sparked the fire in Srah Chak commune around 11pm.
“The four were all on the first floor when the fire broke out on the ground floor,” he said. “But each floor is locked. There were four people, all staff members of the shop, who panicked and didn’t find a way out.”
Chout Yeng, 54-year-old mother of Out Sareign, 27, from Kratie province, said her son had called her just a few hours before he succumbed to the blaze.
“We talked for about 10 minutes, He always called me before going to bed,” she said, before breaking into tears. “He came to learn at the shop and worked without getting a salary. He had been at the shop for only five months.”
Neang Sophorn, whose 20-year-old brother Yeng Kunthea was also killed in the blaze, spoke of her brother’s death in tears at Calmette Hospital.
“I want the authorities to investigate why they died,” she said. “My brother panicked . . . I am shocked to hear the news.”
Commune Police Chief Kan Vannak said the authorities would investigate the cause of the fire. “We want to know exactly the cause of death so the bodies can find peace,” he said.
Neighbour Reach Nimoul said he saw smoke on a security feed from a camera installed in the building, where he owns a guesthouse.
“Then I saw them with the phones flashing asking for help,” he said. “After the incident, after a long time, the fire truck arrived.”
According to Nget Samon, administrative chief of the Fire Department at the Ministry of Interior, there were 612 fires reported nationwide in 2016, which left 14 people dead and 546 injured. In the first nine months of this year, he said, there were 383 blazes with nine deaths and 74 injured.
“The number is decreasing but it remains concerning,” he said, admitting that fire trucks were often late and that water is not always readily available to fight fires. The shop owner could not be reached yesterday.