Death Toll Reaches 21 in Cambodia Building Collapse

Government ambulance in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodian government ambulance in Phnom Penh. Photo: 廣九直通車.

The death toll rose to 21 on Sunday from the collapse of an under-construction building in the Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville, officials said, as rescue workers scoured the rubble of the Chinese-owned project for survivors among the estimated 25 people missing.

Spokesman Kheang Phearum of Preah Sihanouk province told RFA’s Khmer Service that about 1,000 rescuers were picking through piles of bricks and debris of the seven-storey building, which held an estimated 70 people when it collapsed early Saturday. Many were sleeping construction workers.

“We are not talking about who is responsible for the case now,” he said.

“What I can tell you is that the provincial administration first working on rescue and the main priority is to save lives,” added Kheang Phearum.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that he would be traveling to Sihanoukville, west of the capital Phnom Penh, to oversee the rescue efforts.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng issued a statement saying the ministry would investigate to find out the cause of the disaster and take actions against any individuals involved in unlawful acts.

Phnom Penh municipal officials and the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction said the construction was improper.

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Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Zakariya Tin. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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