Death toll from building collapse in Cambodia rises to 26

CAMBODIA. In this Sunday, June 23, 2019, photo provided by Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities, rescuers enter a victim body onto an ambulance at a site of a collapse in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia. Rescuers on Monday were continuing to search the rubble of a building that collapsed while under construction in a Cambodia beach town, killing dozens of workers as they slept in the unfinished condominium that was doubling as their housing. (Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities via AP)

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia -- Rescuers on Monday continued to search the rubble of a building that collapsed while under construction in a Cambodian beach town, killing at least 26 workers and injuring 24 others as they slept in the unfinished condominium that was doubling as their housing.

The seven-story building collapsed Saturday 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 five bodies overnight and two others on Monday, raising the toll to 26. Up to 75% of the debris had been removed from the site as of Monday morning.

Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the site late Sunday. Pictures released by provincial authorities showed him in front of the collapsed building talking to several government ministers involved in the rescue.

Hun Sen said on his Facebook page that he requested the resignation of the provincial governor, Yun Min, and that he had agreed.

Hun Sen also announced that he was establishing a special committee to oversee the quality of Chinese building projects in the town.

At least 24 workers were injured in the collapse. One of them, 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 Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training said 30 workers were at the site when the building collapsed, but Nhor Chandeun said there were 55 to 60 people inside the building.

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

The Chinese Embassy "supports a thorough investigation of the accident and necessary measures by competent Cambodian authority in accordance with the law," the embassy said in a statement Monday.

It said the embassy was greatly saddened by the collapse and had reached out to Chinese enterprises in Cambodia to mobilize personnel as well as heavy equipment like excavators to clear the rubble. (AP)


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