2013 Thailand refugee camp fire

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2013 Thailand camp fire
Ban Mae Surin is located in Thailand
Ban Mae Surin
Ban Mae Surin
Ban Mae Surin (Thailand)
Time 09:00 GMT
Date 22 March 2013
Location Ban Mae Surin refugee camp, Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand
Deaths 37 [1]
Non-fatal injuries 200
Property damage 300–400 huts destroyed
2,300 people without shelter

On 22 March 2013, a fire at the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand, killed 37 Karen refugees from neighbouring Myanmar, as well as destroying hundreds of dwellings. Thought to have started following a "cooking accident",[2] the fire began at around 16:00 local time (09:00 GMT), and extinguished around two hours later.[3] The fire had been spread by hot weather combined with strong winds.[4]

The current death toll for the fire is 37, comprising 21 men and 16 women.[1] Of these, 35 were killed directly, while two others died in the following days. The majority of victims were burned to death, while others were suffocated.[5] The death toll had previously been reported to be as high as 62, though this was later revised.[6] Various sources have also reported "at least 100"[2] and "over 200" other injured people.[7]

The fire destroyed hundreds of makeshift bamboo huts at the camp, as well as the camp's medical clinic, hospital, and two food warehouses.[8] At least 2,300 people were left without shelter following the fire, and were subsequently accommodated in tents.[9] Food, shelter, and clothing is being provided by the International Rescue Committee, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the International Organisation for Migration, as well as other aid groups.[5]


Eyewitnesses claim they saw a helicopter or airplane pass several times overhead before dropping 'sparks' onto the roofs of one of the sources of the fires.[10] The investigation found traces of phosphorus at the source of the fire, leading a police chief to claim it was not an accident.[10] The fire started simultaneously in Zone 1 and Zone 4, on opposite ends of the camps, leading some to suspect foul play[11] Additionally, a section leader in the camp reported that two living tents far from camp were simultaneously burned, leading the community to further suspect foul play.[12]


  1. ^ a b Camp to be rebuilt, death toll at 37Bangkok Post. Published 24 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Preliminary reports indicate a cooking accident triggered the blaze…" Kassim, Aliza (2013). Blaze kills dozens at refugee camp in Thailand - CNN. Published 23 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  3. ^ Burma refugees die in Thailand camp fire – BBC News. Published 22 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  4. ^ '42 die in fire' in Thailand refugee camp – SBS World News Australia. Published 23 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b 35 die in fire at Karen refugee campBangkok Post. Published 23 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  6. ^ 62 Myanmar refugees perish in fire at Thailand campThe Hindu. Published 23 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  7. ^ Fire at Myanmar refugee camp in Thailand, 62 dead – CanIndia. Published 25 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  8. ^ "…the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Bureau said a school, clinic and two food warehouses had also been destroyed." Myanmar refugees killed in fire at Thai camp – Al Jazeera. Published 23 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  9. ^ Biro, Peter (2013). IRC aiding survivors of deadly Thailand refugee camp fire – International Rescue Committee. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b Refugees claim chopper dropped burning objects - Bangkok Post. Published 25 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  11. ^ Karenni refugee camp fire video and interview with witness at 3:00. - Youtube. Published 27 March 2013
  12. ^ Interview with Section Leader in Camp 2 - Youtube. Published 27 March 2013