Cambodia to Investigate Building Collapse in Chinese Investment Zone

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Cambodia to Investigate Building Collapse in Chinese Investment Zone

The accident killed 28 workers and sparked a pledge to look into the quality of Chinese construction in Cambodia.

Cambodia to Investigate Building Collapse in Chinese Investment Zone

Rescuers try to remove the rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia, June 23, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Heng Sinith

Cambodia’s prime minister vowed on Monday to investigate who is responsible for the collapse of a building under construction in a Cambodian beach town. The accident killed 28 workers and injured 26 others as they slept in the unfinished condominium that doubled as their housing.

Also on Monday, two days after the collapse, rescuers found two survivors in the rubble.

A hospital official said the two were very weak and could only speak softly. “They are in serious condition after being trapped since early Saturday without any food or water,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The seven-story building collapsed on top of dozens of construction workers who were sleeping on the second floor. The condominium was being built in the thriving seaside resort town of Sihanoukville, which has several such Chinese-funded projects.

The Chinese Embassy expressed its condolences and said it was mobilizing Chinese assistance for the rescue.

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities said rescuers digging through the twisted metal and concrete rubble found two survivors and four bodies on Monday, raising the death toll to 28.

Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the site on Sunday and again on Monday, when he announced the end of the rescue operation and said officials would now determine who was responsible.

“I regret what happened here,” he told reporters at the site of the collapse. “We have heard about building collapses which occurred in other countries such as China or Bangladesh, but now it has happened in our country.”

Hun Sen also announced that he was establishing a committee to oversee the quality of Chinese building projects in the town. But he praised Chinese investors, saying every country in the world needs them.

Provincial authorities said in a statement that four Chinese nationals involved in the construction have been detained while the collapse is investigated.

They said 54 people were trapped in the collapse, of whom 28 were killed and 26 were injured.

One of the injured, Nhor Chandeun, said he and his wife were sleeping when they heard a loud noise and felt the building vibrate and then begin falling down. They were trapped for 12 hours before rescuers found them.

The Chinese Embassy said it “supports a thorough investigation of the accident and necessary measures by competent Cambodian authority in accordance with the law.”

By The Associated Press.