A double-decker bus traveling through Battambang province to Phnom Penh on Saturday night burst into flames due to a short-circuit, killing one and injuring five, Battambang police said on Sunday.
The night bus, operated by the Rith Mony Transport Company, had departed from Poipet, according to Battambang City police chief Pang Heang. It had reached Battambang City’s O’Mal commune at 10:20 p.m. when a short-circuit sparked a fire for the second time that night, gutting the vehicle completely.
“The passengers on the bus said the bus caught on fire once along the way, but the driver and his assistant successfully put out the fire and continued the journey” before a second fire occurred, Mr. Heang said.
The blaze killed a 42-year-old man, Long Ke, and left five more hospitalized with injuries.
Lay Chheang, the Battambang province branch manager for Rith Mony, said there were 19 passengers aboard the bus when it departed Poipet, all Cambodian nationals.
The majority of them lost all their belongings in the incident, said Mr. Heang, and a few had already filed claims with the company on Sunday.
The driver and his assistant fled the scene before police arrived, he said.
The second fire spread quickly, Mr. Heang said, forcing passengers to break windows—likely with their bare hands—to escape the blaze.
“Passengers said that when the fire started, everything immediately burst into flames all over the bus. Only about four or five people managed to get out of the bus from the door. Others broke the windows to get out,” he said.
He said that Long Ke likely died because he was asleep when the fire started.
Mr. Chheang said the company had tried to contact the driver and driver’s assistant since the fire, but that their phones were turned off.
The incident follows two serious passenger bus crashes in early July, one in which a fatigued driver overturned a Mekong Express bus, injuring 37, and another in which a minibus collided head-on with a sand truck, injuring eight passengers, including five children.