Saturday, March 23, 2013

Refugee camp death toll rises to 42

Saturday, 23 March 2013 13:12 Mizzima News

A blaze tore though Mae Surin refugee camp at the Thai-Myanmar border on Friday, March 22, 2013. PHOTO: Karenni Further Studies Program via Facebook

The toll from a blaze that swept through a camp in northern Thailand has risen to 42, a Thai official told AFP on Saturday, after hundreds of temporary homes for refugees from Myanmar were reduced to ashes.

Dozens of people were injured in the fire, which broke out on Friday at the Mae Surin camp in Mae Hong Son province, with women, children and the elderly believed to make up the majority of the victims most of whom are ethnic Karenni.

Rescue workers were on the scene at the remote mountainous camp area, Mae Hong Son provincial governor Narumol Paravat told AFP by telephone.

Authorities believe the fire was sparked by an unattended cooking flame.

A local district official said hot weather, combined with strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly among the thatched bamboo shelters.

Police on Saturday said around 400 temporary homes had been incinerated, while the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Bureau said a school, clinic and two food warehouses had also been destroyed.

The Thai government pledged an investigation into the fire at the camp, which houses roughly 3,700 refugees.

Ten camps strung out along the Thai-Myanmar border house a total of about 130,000 people, who first began arriving in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, local NGOs such as Women's Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE) have mobilized relief efforts and are accepting donations.
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