Camp fire in Thailand kills more than 30 refugees from Myanmar (Burma)


A refugee boy from central Myanmar pictured on March 22, 2013.


Soa Than Win

More than 30 refugees from Myanmar have reportedly died in a fire at a camp in northern Thailand.

The blaze at Ban Mae Surin camp, which houses around 3,700 people, may have been started by a cooking accident, the Associated Press cited local governor Naramol Palawat as saying.

The AP cited an emergency medical service worker as saying that 32 people had died and two had been sent to a hospital in Chiang Mai, the nearest big Thai city. 

The fire destroyed about 100 makeshift houses in the camp, located 575 miles north of Bangkok.

Another official said:

"Most of the dead are women, elderly and children. Some 200 are wounded."

More than 130,000 people have fled conflicts in Myanmar since the 1980s and are living in 10 camps strung out along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Many camp dwellers have been registered with the UN as refugees and are in the process of being resettled to third countries.

ABC News wrote that fires in camps were not uncommon, especially in the hot season.

The camps are packed and a lack of firefighting equipment means shelters are often quickly destroyed, although ABC wrote, Friday's death toll was unusually high.