Two survivors pulled from rubble of collapsed Cambodia building; death toll at 28

SIHANOUKVILLE (Cambodia) • Two men were pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed Cambodian building yesterday, more than two days after a construction site accident that left at least 28 dead.

Hopes that more survivors would be found under the tangled wreckage had all but faded, but against the odds two people were cut free and carried out by rescuers.

The seven-storey Chinese-owned building folded in on itself before dawn last Saturday as scores of construction workers slept inside the structure in Sihanoukville.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the scene of the collapse before daybreak yesterday.

The grim-faced Premier watched the rescue of the two survivors, climbing into their ambulances to see them before they were taken to hospital.

Mr Hun Sen has ordered inspections of all building sites in the beach town, which is undergoing a Chinese-bankrolled development boom. Condominiums and hotels are springing up to cash in on the surge in Chinese visitors flocking to its dozens of casinos.

Meanwhile, the governor of Preah Sihanouk province has resigned. Mr Yun Min accepted he had made a managerial "mistake", according to a post on Mr Hun Sen's Facebook page.

 
 

Three Chinese nationals and a Cambodian landowner have been held for questioning over the building collapse.

The authorities earlier yesterday put the death toll at 25, shortly before a reporter witnessed rescuers pulling out three more bodies from the debris, bringing the total to 28.

Distraught relatives at a local hospital said around a dozen people were believed to still be entombed in the concertinaed floors.

The once-quiet fishing village of Sihanoukville has seen a remarkable Chinese construction boom driven by the need for rooms for casino-bound tourists flocking from the mainland.

China's embassy in Cambodia, a strategically important ally to Beijing with ports and borders to other Mekong countries, expressed its condolences and backed a "thorough investigation" into the role of the three Chinese nationals and the cause of the accident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2019, with the headline 'Two survivors pulled from rubble of collapsed Cambodia building; death toll at 28'. Print Edition | Subscribe