Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thousands homeless after Cambodian slum fire: police


PHNOM PENH - Thousands were made homeless early Friday after a slum fire in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh destroyed more than 200 homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in an area crowded with poorly-built wooden shacks, police said, adding that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
"Hundreds of houses were completely destroyed," said Pong Savrith, military police deputy commander.
"They were all small wooden houses that were built in a disorderly manner," he told AFP as a column of thick smoke continued to billow into the sky.
Neighbourhood residents swarmed into nearby streets, struggling to rescue their belongings, while others huddled on the curbside, crying as their homes burned.
About 200 firefighters and volunteers worked for five hours to douse the blaze, said fire chief Sok Vannar.
"This is the biggest fire this year," he said, adding that no one had been hurt.
Although large neighbourhood fires are increasingly rare in Phnom Penh, a series of suspicious blazes several years ago destroyed a number of slum areas, forcing tens of thousands to flee.
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