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Cambodia PM Hun Sen visits deadly building collapse site

Hun Sen with rescue workersImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Prime Minister Hun Sen (in uniform) visited the collapse site early on Monday morning

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has visited the site of a building collapse which buried dozens as they slept.

Regional officials said the death toll had risen to 24 at the Chinese-owned construction site in the coastal town of Sihanoukville.

A similar number are said to be injured.

The seven-storey building collapsed on Saturday morning before dawn, with many workers asleep inside. No survivors have been found since Saturday.

There are varying estimates of the number of people missing. Relatives at a local hospital said around a dozen people were still believed to be buried in the debris.

One bereaved woman, 47-year-old Khim Pov, cried and hugged her daughter as she told AFP: “I lost my husband and my nephew. I don’t have any hope my husband has survived. The bodies being pulled out have been flattened.”

A series of bodies were found overnight on Sunday as rescuers used diggers and drills to shift the rubble.

The building collapse is the worst of its kind in Cambodia in recent years and will raise further questions over the rate and sustainability of construction in Sihanoukville.

Previously a small fishing village, it has changed beyond recognition over the last three years with the construction of dozens of hotels, and casinos catering almost solely to Chinese tourists.

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Media captionInjured are rescued from the rubble

Four people have been arrested over the collapse, including the Chinese building owner, the head of the construction firm and the contractor.

A Cambodian landowner has also been taken in for questioning.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia expressed its condolences and said it supported a “thorough investigation” of the accident and the Chinese nationals arrested.

Cambodia has notoriously lax labour laws, putting construction workers at risk.

The International Labour Organization has highlighted the “exposure of workers to constant safety and health hazards” on building sites.

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