Fri, 2010-03-12 04:45.
By: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Seventeen new roads will provide quick access to Cambodia's Angkor complex in case of fires at the ancient temples, officials said Friday shortly before a blaze started nearby.
The roads will alleviate fears of damage to the country's greatest artistic treasure, especially during the dry season when blazes often break out, said Tan Sambu, an official of the Apsara Authority, the government agency that oversees the temples.
On Friday, a fire about 2 kilometres from Angkor Wat, the most famous of the temples, destroyed several acres of forest and at least two village houses, said police Maj. Pheung Chandarith.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries, and Pheung said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.
Tourism is a major source of foreign currency for cash-strapped Cambodia, which hosts nearly 1.5 million foreign tourists each year, mostly from South Korea, Japan and the United States. More than half of the tourists visit Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northwestern Siem Reap province.
The temples were built when Angkorian kings ruled over much of Southeast Asia between the ninth and 14th centuries.
Earlier this month, South Korea provided $9.2 million to build a new road that will circle the temple complex and reduce traffic in the area.