An explosion on Wednesday at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and tuk-tuk refuelling station in Siem Reap city has left 13 people, including an American and a Briton, suffering burns.
The seven most severely burned, including a provincial police officer, were sent to a Thai hospital while six others were warded in Cambodia.
A police report said an LPG tank exploded after it sprung a leak in Slakram commune’s Banteay Chas village. The incident took place at 1pm on Wednesday, damaging several passing vehicles and two motorbikes that were parked outside.
The refuelling station, with a small shopfront on a busy shopping street, was severely damaged in the blast.
Siem Reap district police chief Nop Sarak told The Post on Thursday that the authorities had not yet ascertained the cause of the explosion, but eyewitnesses said neighbours had noticed a gas leak and went to help.
He said a provincial police officer and a neighbour hurriedly evacuated people from the scene and informed the fire brigade, but while they were doing this, the gas tank exploded, sending flames into the street.
Videos of the incident showed passersby frantically dropping their motorbikes and fleeing to safety, some clearly in pain.
“The neighbour of the refuelling station suffered burns to the body, arms, legs and face. Witnesses said gas started leaking out of the tank, and shortly afterwards there was an explosion.
“A woman who worked at the gas refuelling station had been evacuated by the injured police officer, otherwise she would have been killed in the explosion,” Sarak said.
He said firemen arrived almost immediately, took 30 minutes to extinguish the flames, and prevented the blaze spreading to neighbouring houses.
Seven of the injured, including the police officer and the British man, were sent to hospital in Thailand, Sarak said, while the American man was sent for treatment in Phnom Penh. Five others were treated at the provincial hospital.
He said the owner of the refuelling station had promised to appear at the police station and pay compensation to the victims, but the authorities had not yet taken any action against him as the case was under investigation.
“We have not been able to accuse him since he was not on the premises at the time. He was attending a religious feast and had left the staff to run the business,” Sarak said.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy issued a statement on Thursday saying that the refuelling station was not authorised to operate. It said the ministry was investigating the case.
It advised all petrol station owners, and especially gas refuelling stations, to ensure they operated professionally and met technical safety standards.
To avoid harming themselves or the public, all such businesses are required to have a licence and approval from relevant ministries and institutions, the statement said.
Siem Reap district governor Nuon Putheara told The Post on Thursday that provincial governor Tea Seyha had decided to provide financial assistance to all those injured and had visited the five victims at the provincial hospital.
“As far as I know, but I am not 100 per cent sure, His Excellency the governor said he would cover the police officer’s entire medical costs.”