Families of Fire Victims Demand Compensation

The families of three of the five people killed in a fire that gutted a Siem Reap City nightclub in the early hours of Tuesday are demanding between $3,000 and $4,000 each in compensation from the venue’s owner, a police official said Wednesday.

Just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, a blaze ripped through the Hip Hop Restaurant & Discotheque, killing four Cambodians—Prum Phiron and Soeun Savon, both 31; Cheng Savien, 33; and Chea Sreiny, 36—and an Australian national, Tom Ricketson, 32, according to deputy Siem Reap provincial police chief Thorng Sakun.

“The relatives of Cheng Savien, Chea Sreiny and Soeun Savon filed complaints with the [provincial] court and are demanding compensation of $3,000 to $4,000,” he said yesterday, adding that Prum Phiron’s family had not yet filed a complaint because they were busy with funeral arrangements.

Mr. Sakun said Tom Ricketson’s family had not filed a complaint, either, but that his body had been given to the Australian Embassy.

“The Australian victim’s body was handed over to an Australian Embassy representative, and he took him to Phnom Penh today in an embassy van,” he said.

The deputy police chief named two women injured in the fire as Ath Sarath, 24, and Yat Sreymao, 33—both of whom worked at the nightclub—and said they would not file a complaint because the owner, Lee Meng Srin, was “taking care of them at the hospital.”

Mr. Sakun said police had yet to question the nightclub’s owner, who had apparently sent a lawyer to negotiate with the victims’ families.

“I heard that Hip Hop’s owner sent a lawyer to contact the victim’s families and help with their funerals,” he said.

Mr. Meng Srin could not be reached Wednesday.

Mr. Sakun also said Wednesday that investigators concluded the fire was caused by a short circuit in an electrical wire in the ceiling.

Attached to the gate in front of the nightclub Wednesday was a small Australian flag, a bouquet of yellow flowers, a photo of Tom Ricketson and a note to him, part of which read: “Keep on living on.”

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