Thu, Nov 19, 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
PHNOM PENH, Nov 19, 2009 (AFP) - Hundreds of ethnic Cham Muslims were made homeless Thursday by a fire that gutted a crowded neighbourhood in Cambodia's capital, police said.
The blaze broke out at 7:30 am (0030 GMT) among poorly-built wooden houses mostly inhabited by members of the Muslim minority, local police chief Som Bunny said, adding that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
"At least 230 houses were completely burned down," he said, adding that authorities and firefighters took five hours to put out the flames.
There were no reports of injuries or deaths, authorities said.
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.
There are nearly 240,000 Cham Muslims in Cambodia, forming 1.6 percent of the population in the predominantly Buddhist country, according to a recent survey by the US-based Pew Research Centre.