Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Suspicious fires raze slums

Suspicious fires raze slums

Suspicious fires raze slums

Thousands of the capital's poorest residents lost their homes within 36 hours when

huge fires raced through two squatter areas. The first fire at Bassac commune started

in the afternoon of November 26 and destroyed more than 2,200 homes.

One man died in the second fire, which began late the following evening in the predominantly

Vietnamese area of Chhbar Ampoe across the Monivong Bridge. Almost 1,000 homes were

lost there.

The fires coincided with the state visit of Vietnam's President Tran Duc Luong. The

Agence-France Presse office in Hanoi reported December 6 that Western diplomats in

the city believed the fires were deliberately lit to send him a message.

An attaché at the Vietnamese Embassy, Chu Dong Loc, said the embassy was awaiting

the results of the police investigation. He said the embassy hoped the authorities

would undertake "appropriate measures to relocate residents".

"The police have a duty and an obligation to investigate the fire," he

said. "So far there is no evidence that the fire was deliberately coinciding

with the President's visit."

Although some victims of the second blaze at Chhbar Ampoe spoke of arson, Muong Khim,

Phnom Penh municipality's deputy chief commissioner, said the police investigation

showed both fires were accidental.

"[The first fire was caused by] two kids who were at home playing with matches.

Because this season is the windy season, the fire trucks could not help much. Also

there was no access road," said Khim.

"[The second fire] was caused by an explosion of a small gas cooker. According

to the investigation, the witnesses living around there said the fire started at

the home of a Vietnamese man who died in the blaze."

Much of the responsibility for helping the victims will fall on the urban poverty

reduction project, funded by the British government's aid and development agency,

the Department for International Development (DfID) and the UNDP.

Mark Mallalieu, head of DfID South-East Asia in Bangkok, said the organization would

examine any new evidence that came to light. He said DfID's guiding principle was

that its work should address the needs of the poor.

"That guiding principle would govern our response. Certainly in relation to

our financial interest in this project, we clearly want to understand what happened

and what the implications are," he said.

"What we need to do is to establish as full an understanding as we can about

what happened and what the appropriate DfID response should be," said Mallalieu.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol

  • Ministry to 'seek justice' for officials indicted in US for 'monkey smuggling'

    The Cambodian government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will make the “utmost effort” to seek justice for a Cambodian official arrested in John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for allegedly conspiring to smuggle crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,