A woman died and four others sustained injuries in a fire yesterday at Indian restaurant Sher-E-Punjab in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, officials said.
Prom Yorn, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department, said yesterday at the scene that four people, two of whom were foreigners, suffered serious injuries and were admitted to Calmette Hospital.
“The fire happened around 9.30am and it is suspected that it was caused by gas leaking from a tank,” Mr Yorn said.
He said that the gas tank did not explode, but if it had, the whole house would have been completely destroyed.
Mr Yorn said that when he obtained information about the fire, he ordered his fire fighters to rush to the scene to extinguish it using five fire trucks.
“About 50 to 60 percent of the restaurant was damaged, especially in the kitchen,” Mr Yorn said, appealing to all people to be very careful while using gas tanks and to know how to prevent gas from leaking.
Sok Penhvuth, Daun Penh district governor, visited the scene and at about 1pm, one of the restaurant’s worker was found dead in a mezzanine room.
“A woman was found dead in the mezzanine room where she worked,” he said, adding that authorities were trying to enter the room to retrieve her body.
Upon arriving at the restaurant after police took the body out of the room, Nhem Saroeun, 54, an aunt of the deceased, said her niece In Srey Mao, 17, just left her home village in Prey Veng province’s Kampong Trabek district to work at the eatery.
“I am so shocked to hear that she died in the fire,” Ms Saroeun said, adding that she would bring her niece’s body for a funeral in Kampong Trabek district.
She called for generous people to help chip in so that she could afford to pay for transportation of her niece’s body to her home.
“We are very poor. We do not have money at all to buy a coffin for her body and cannot afford to take her body home,” Mr Saroeun said.
Earlier this month, five people, all from the same family, suffered injuries in a gas explosion in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district and they were sent to a Phnom Penh hospital because of their serious burns.
Police said then that the explosion was caused by gas being used for cooking while the family was preparing rice for breakfast. According to the National Police, last year 514 fires broke out across the country, killing 22 people and injured 128.