The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has confirmed today that 45 refugees were killed in a fire that tore through the Baan Mae Surin camp at around 4pm on Friday afternoon.
Karen News is led to understand that most of the dead were trapped in the camp hospital. Two severely burnt refugees have been transferred to hospitals in Chiang Mai and two to Mae Hong Son.
The refugee camp described by residents as a ‘jungle camp’ is a difficult four-hour drive from Mae Hong Son and its rescue services. The fire destroyed the refugee camp leaving the hills scarred and blackened.
UNHCR estimate that as many as 400 families are now without shelter and have sent 800 tents to shelter those who lost houses in the fire and are now without shelter. UNHCR estimated that 2,300 people are without shelter. The camp population is mainly made up of ethnic Karenni people from Burma.
It is the believed the fire was started in a kitchen accident that camp residents say was located in Zone 1 and quickly spread, destroying most of the camp bamboo houses. Zone 4 located across a 10m wide river was also affected and Karen News understands that Thai authorities are investigating if nearby forest fires are to blame.
Thai authorities have called an emergency meeting of non-government-organisations, community-based-organisations and the UNHCR to coordinate its response to the tragedy and to help the