Saturday 17 August 2019

Rescuers search through rubble after deadly building collapse in Cambodia

There were believed to be up to 60 people in the building at the time of the collapse.

Rescuers try to remove rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia (Heng Sinith/AP)
Rescuers try to remove rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia (Heng Sinith/AP)

By Heng Sinith and Sopheng Cheang, Associated Press

Cambodian rescuers combing through the rubble of a collapsed seven-storey building have recovered the bodies of 17 construction workers and pulled out 24 injured, as investigations into the incident continue.

Construction workers said the unfinished building in the coastal city of Sihanoukville doubled as their housing, with the crew spending nights on the second floor.

Nhor Chandeun said he and his wife were asleep when the building crumbled on top of them at around 4am on Saturday.

“All the workers were asleep,” the 31-year-old said from a hospital. “A moment before the building collapsed it was vibrating and then it was falling down. But it was too quick to escape.”

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People injured in the collapse wait for treatment in hospital (Heng Sinith/AP)

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said that 30 workers were at the site when the building collapsed, but Nhor Chandeun said there were about 55-60 people inside the building.

Yun Min, the governor of Preah Sihanouk province, said the building was owned by a Chinese investor who leased land for a condominium – one of many Chinese projects in the thriving beach resort.

Provincial authorities said in a statement that four Chinese nationals involved in the construction have been detained while an investigation into the collapse is carried out.

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Recovery efforts at the scene (Heng Sinith/AP)

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse.

Rescue workers were using saws to cut steel beams and excavators to move piles of rubble from the site. Officials said 1,000 people were taking part in the operation that continued overnight into Sunday morning.

Nhor Chandeun and his wife were trapped for 12 hours before rescuers found them.

“My wife and I kept calling for help,” he said. “We were shouting and shouting but there was no sound replying to us and we presumed that we would die under the rubble.”

“Fortunately the rescuers found me in time,” he added.

PA Media

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