FIRE RAVAGES AT LEAST 500 HOMES ALONG PHNOM PENH RIVERBANK


2004.02.13
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PHNOM PENH�A fire that spread along the Bassac River in Phnom Penh destroyed at least 500 homes, leaving roughly twice that many families homeless, RFA�s Khmer service reports.

At about 4 p.m. in the Chba Ompeuv district of Phnom Penh, a fire broke out that quickly spread because of winds and dry conditions. By the time it stopped spreading, at least 500 homes or squatters� shacks along the river had burned to the ground, witnesses said.

�Many fire trucks have been sent to the scene to extinguish the fire, but we need more help,� Phnom Penh Fire Department Chief Suon Sophea told RFA. No deaths or injuries have been confirmed.

Witness at the scene told reporters the fire started at a local motorcycle repair shop. Police and fire officials are still investigating what caused the blaze.

Phnom Penh, still rebuilding after 30 years of civil strife, comprises numerous pockets of squatters. About two years ago, four major fires struck squatter settlements. #####

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