Officials Seeking Owner of Nightclub Where Fire Killed 5

Police have identified the owner of a Phnom Penh nightclub where five women were killed in a fire on Monday night but have yet to locate him, officials said Wednesday.

The families of the five dead women—two waitresses at the Key Club and three teenage patrons— have filed complaints against the owner, Phon Bunthoeun, 36, as have two security guards who are in Calmette Hospital receiving treatment for serious burns sustained in the fire, according to Mao Sivorn, chief of police in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune.

“We have the identity of the club owner but he has not come forward and his phone is turned off,” Mr. Sivorn said. “Regardless of whether he comes to solve the problem, the prosecutor will process this case.”

Mr. Sivorn said that the families of the five dead had requested $2,000 compensation for their loss, and that the security guards, Dy Lida and Khom Channuth, had asked for $2,000 and $60,000, respectively.

He said that the complaints and the case had been forwarded to Kham Sophary, a deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The fire tore through the club at about 8 p.m. after a smoke machine short-circuited, Mr. Sivorn said Tuesday, and guests were unable to make their way to the front entrance because it was blocked by flames, and could not locate the emergency exit.

In November 2013, three people were killed in another blaze at the club, which started when sparks from a welder ignited a sofa. At the time, authorities said a lack of exits was to blame for the deaths. However, the club was allowed to open for business later, still with only two exits.

Meanchey district governor Dy Rothkhemarun said Wednesday that he and Mr. Sophary, the deputy prosecutor, had signed off to shut down the the club, and that the district police’s judicial bureau had been instructed to track down Mr. Bunthoeun.

“The club will pay the compensation to all victims,” he said.

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