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62 Myanmar refugees dead in Thailand fire

March 23, 2013 17:00 IST

At least 62 Myanmar refugees have been killed and over 200 injured when a fire swept through their camp in northern Thailand, with officials fearing that the toll could rise further.

Earlier, 30 refugees were reported killed when a fire broke out on Friday evening at the Mae Surin refugee camp in Mae Hong Son province. Thirty-two more bodies were found in the burnt camp and the death toll could rise further, chief of the Mae Hong Son Public Health Office Paisarn Thanyawinitchakul said.

Most of the victims died of suffocation and over 200 people were injured. More than 3,000 refugees, mostly from Myanmar's Karen minority, live at the camp. Over 100,000 refugees live in camps near the Myanmar border on the Thailand, mostly ethnic Karen who have fled fighting between Karen rebels and the government.

The blaze was apparently sparked by an unattended cooking flame that razed hundreds of huts, mostly made of bamboo, before bringing it under control on Saturday morning. Most of the dead were women, the elderly and children, media reports here said, quoting a senior national intelligence official.

Jaishree Balasubramanian in Bangkok