Cambodia: 28 workers killed as building collapses in Sihanoukville

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29 June 2020

Cambodia: Sihanoukville Provincial Court tries six people including four Chinese nationals on charges related to deadly building collapses last year

Author: Khy Sovuthy, CamboJa

"Six face trial in Sihanoukville building collaps", 27 June 2020

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court … tried four Chinese nationals, and one Vietnamese and Cambodian who were involved in a building collapse in Preah Sihanouk Province that killed 28 and injured 26 … last year…

Six people were charged in the days after the deadly incident, among them four Chinese nationals, who have been awaiting trial in provincial prison, and one Cambodian and one Vietnamese national, who are on the run and will be tried in absentia…

Puth Theavy, a lawyer for Deng Xing Gui, 49, said the court had charged his client with two counts, unintentional killing and unintentional injury by the court…

Nhor Nhen, a lawyer for the other two Chinese nationals, Cheng Kun, 40, and Xe Ya Ping, 44, said that he had provided exculpatory evidence to the court during the hearing, but he would not comment further as a verdict has yet to be announced…

Saing Vannak, a lawyer for the 54 who were injured or died in the building collapse, said that there were six lawyers on the defense team, but none of the victims were present.

… Sreng Vanly, a coordinator for human right group Licadho in Preah Sihanouk province who attended the hearing, said that although none of the victims were present, their lawyers and the court had proceeded according to the law…

Sok Kin, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said that he did not know specifically the procedures between the victims and their lawyers, or whether or not those affected by the building collapse had signed over their rights to their attorneys…

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22 August 2019

Cambodia: The govt. reviews the permits and safety standards of 297 construction projects in Preah Sihanouk since the deadly collapse in June

Author: Sokhean Ben, Khmer Times

"Committee inspects hundreds of projects", 21 August 2019

Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearom recently revealed that Land Management Ministry and provincial officials have reviewed the permits and safety standards of nearly 300 construction projects in Preah Sihanouk.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered for the creation of the Committee for the Inspection of Quality in Buildings in Preah Sihanouk after the Sihanoukville building collapse in June that killed 28 and injured 26 others.

The committee is tasked with reviewing technical aspects, standards and safety of buildings under construction. It has the authority to draft and file a report to the Land Management Ministry.

... “The committee has reviewed 297 construction sites and two buildings, one in Buon commune and one in Pi commune, are to be demolished,” Mr Phearom said. “They were owned by Chinese nationals.”

... However, Mr Phearom said 22 unlicensed construction sites in Sihanoukville were told to halt operations...

Seng Lot, spokesman for the Land Management Ministry, could not be reached for comment ...

However, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said in a statement ... that legal action must be taken against construction projects lacking permits.

“The move aims to ensure that buildings are built in line with legal norms and construction standards,” Mr Sophara said.

A construction manager at a site in Sihanoukville ... said he was told that his project has to be demolished because it did not meet safety standards...

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, ... called on the government to take stronger action against poorly executed construction projects in Preah Sihanouk...

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14 August 2019

Cambodia: The govt. meets to discuss a draft law aimed at ensuring quality and safety in construction following a deadly collapse in Sihanoukville

Author: Long Kimmarita, The Phnom Penh Post

"Government discusses new draft law aimed at construction safety", 13 August 2019

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara … met for talks with members of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations over a draft law aimed at ensuring quality and safety in construction…

The proposed draft law aims to ensure quality and safety in construction; protect the property and welfare of the public and property owners; safeguard the jobs of construction workers, and be accountable and effective in doing so.

The draft law, which contains 113 articles and 22 chapters, also stipulated standards for construction techniques and materials, procedures for managing the role of officials and audits, as well as the responsibilities of all relevant professionals and stakeholders.

Articles 92 to 106 specify the penalties for breaking the law – including warnings, revocation of licenses, seizing of property and equipment, fines and imprisonment – mostly concerning articles of the Criminal Code. Offenders face prison sentences of up to 10 years.

… “The ministry issued Letter 067 dated October 4, 2018, about the formation of a working group to inspect and monitor the quality of construction in Sihanoukville. But this year, a building collapsed. It shows that the working group is not active enough.

… Neither Sophara nor his two ministry spokesmen could be reached for comment …

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that in general, the KRP president’s concerns were reasonable, but by making laws, it at least provided a basis to enforce the law…

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11 August 2019

After Cambodia Digs Out Survivors, Eyes Cast Toward China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Author: Skylar Lindsay, Citizen Truth

1 August 2019

...[O]n June 22, the seven-story building collapsed, killing 28 people and injuring at least 26.

...Cambodian authorities found that the construction project was illegal and have charged five Chinese nationals with involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for their role in the accident.

Last week, 86 shipping containers containing 3.5 million pounds of plastic waste arrived illegally at the port in Sihanoukville....

...These incidents are the culmination of a recent tide of Chinese development in Cambodia. The kingdom is key to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plans in Southeast Asia, and Chinese firms have invested in everything from highways to casinos. At least 70% of Cambodia's foreign investments now come from China.

But following the June disaster in Sihanoukville, a group of construction workers, unions and civil society groups is now pushing back against Chinese developers' violations of Cambodian law. They're calling for all construction projects in Sihanoukville and across Cambodia to be suspended until independent experts can verify that contractors are complying with laws and safety standards.

...Without effective regulation, construction workers face immense risks such as illegal contractors who may be unregistered and lack insurance. When local authorities attempt to enforce labor laws and construction regulations, subcontractors shirk responsibility.

...The Cambodian government hasn't suspended construction projects as the unions demanded, but they have taken steps to address the problem....

...The Chinese government is aware of the problem as well. Regarding the arrest of Chinese nationals following the collapse in Sihanoukville, the embassy in Phnom Penh said they support "a thorough investigation of the accident and necessary measures by competent Cambodian authority in accordance with the law."

Civil society groups are monitoring the government's moves and say regulations on foreign investments and advancing workers rights are key steps toward development....

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26 June 2019

Cambodia: Govt. charges seven over Sihanoukville building collapse as death toll reaches 28

Author: Al Jazeera

"Cambodia charges seven over Sihanoukville building collapse", 25 June 2019

A court in Cambodia charged seven people, including five Chinese nationals, on Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy after a fatal building collapse in the booming beach city of Sihanoukville over the weekend.

At least 28 construction workers were killed when the structure collapsed early on Saturday morning, while 26 were injured. The last two survivors were pulled from the rubble on Monday...

...Prosecutors charged two Chinese nationals, the building owner Chen Kun and construction supervisor Deng Xing Gui, with involuntary manslaughter, causing unintentional injuries and damage, according to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court.

Three other Chinese nationals, a Vietnamese and a Cambodian were charged with conspiracy related to the charges, the court documents showed...

...Prime Minister Hun Sen has already fired a top disaster management official and accepted the resignation of the governor of Preah Sihanouk province where the town is located.

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Author: 德國之聲中文網

“柬埔寨中資建築倒塌已造成17人死亡”, 2019年6月22日

柬埔寨港口城市西哈努克(Sihanoukville)一座正在施工的建築物發生倒塌,至少造成17人死亡,20多人受傷,其中一些人傷勢很重。還有多人被困在廢墟之內,生死未卜。據悉這棟發生倒塌的7層大樓為一家中資企業所有。事故發生時,建築工地應該有大約50人… 當地政府發言人稱,仍然有多人被困於瓦礫堆中。由於大樓的鋼筋結構發生垮塌,為避免造成更大程度的坍塌和傷亡,救援人員只能小心移除瓦礫,等待在廢墟下找到生命跡象…

不久前還是漁村的西哈努克市目前已成為西哈努克省最大的城市,這座海濱度假勝地近年來吸引了大量中資,尤其是博彩業和旅遊業,至少50家博彩公司掌握在中國人手中… 據法新社援引官方數字,2016年至2018年間,中資在該省的投資額高達10億美元。據悉,4名中國公民被當地警方拘留調查,其中包括這幢建築的投資者、建築公司老闆以及一名外包公司老闆…

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Author: 德国之声中文网

“柬埔寨中资建筑倒塌已造成17人死亡”, 2019年6月22日

柬埔寨港口城市西哈努克(Sihanoukville)一座正在施工的建筑物发生倒塌,至少造成17人死亡,20多人受伤,其中一些人伤势很重。还有多人被困在废墟之内,生死未卜。据悉这栋发生倒塌的7层大楼为一家中资企业所有。事故发生时,建筑工地应该有大约50人… 当地政府发言人称,仍然有多人被困于瓦砾堆中。由于大楼的钢筋结构发生垮塌,为避免造成更大程度的坍塌和伤亡,救援人员只能小心移除瓦砾,等待在废墟下找到生命迹象…

不久前还是渔村的西哈努克市目前已成为西哈努克省最大的城市,这座海滨度假胜地近年来吸引了大量中资,尤其是博彩业和旅游业,至少50家博彩公司掌握在中国人手中… 据法新社援引官方数字,2016年至2018年间,中资在该省的投资额高达10亿美元。 据悉,4名中国公民被当地警方拘留调查,其中包括这幢建筑的投资者、建筑公司老板以及一名外包公司老板…

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24 June 2019

Cambodia: The collapse of an under-construction building in Sihanouk province kills 18 construction workers and injures over 24

Author: Chanthol Prak, Reuters

"Eighteen dead, 24 injured in Cambodia building collapse", 22 June 2019

… Eighteen people were killed when an under-construction building in Cambodia collapsed early …, an official said, as rescuers struggled to reach missing workers feared trapped under a mountain of twisted steel and rubble.

The seven-storey steel and concrete structure in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, west of the capital Phnom Penh, was a Chinese-owned project.

At least 24 people were injured and some workers had been trapped inside the building soon after it collapsed, according to the office of the spokesman for the local province of Preah Sihanouk.

… A statement issued … by Preah Sihanouk Province officials said 40% of the debris from the site had been cleared. It was not clear how many more people were missing… Preah Sihanouk province and its largest town, Sihanoukville, has seen a rush of investment in recent years from China, especially into the casino, property and tourism sectors.

Home to Cambodia’s largest port and a Chinese Special Economic Zone connected to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, the town is also undergoing a construction boom to serve growing crowds of Chinese tourists and investors.

Police have detained four people, including three construction supervisors, for questioning in relation to the accident, according to a statement from the province.

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