One Dead, 2 Injured in Concrete Floor Collapse at Building Site

A construction worker died and two others were injured in Phnom Penh on Wednesday when a concrete floor collapsed onto them, officials said.

A team of about 20 laborers had been expanding the second floor of the under-construction Trapaing Thloeng market in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune at about 8 a.m. when the wooden forms, and the steel beams supporting them, buckled under the weight of the concrete being poured, said deputy district governor Keo Sophea.

The body of Va Sok, 52, is taken away from the scene of a construction site accident in Phnom Penh's Pur Senchey district on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
The body of Va Sok, 52, is taken away from the scene of a construction site accident in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Sophea said that three men—Va Sok, 52; Un Oeu, 50; and Un Iem, 48—were adjusting support beams underneath the floor when it collapsed.

“The support beams were not strong enough,” he said, adding that after the floor gave way, emergency responders from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 70 joined other construction workers in frantically trying to dig the men out of the rubble, by hand and with the use of an excavator.

Mr. Sophea said that when their bodies were retrieved, Va Sok was pronounced dead at the scene, while Mr. Oeu was transported to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

Deputy commune police chief Sao Sarith said that Mr. Iem, who was seriously injured, was taken for treatment at Brigade 70’s headquarters.

Bin Siniet, director of the district land management and construction office, identified the owner of the market as Touch Bunthoeun, a local businessman.

Mr. Siniet said that a combination of soft land and too much weight on the support beams had likely caused the collapse, adding that while the three floors above the market had been inspected by his office, the second-floor extension had not.

Moul Narin, deputy director of the municipal department of land management and construction, said the building, which would eventually be turned into a supermarket, had been closed pending an investigation.

“The construction site had a permit,” he said. “But in the permit, it states that he [Mr. Bunthoeun] must hire a construction company.”

“If he did not hire a construction company and just hired workers himself, he might face the law,” he added.

Mr. Oeu, who injured his leg in the collapse, said from his hospital bed that Mr. Iem was his younger brother, and might have seriously injured his back.

“He was buried in the concrete,” he said.

Brigade 70 commander Hak Mao said he did not have an update on Mr. Iem’s condition.

Yan Thy, general secretary of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said the three men should never have been under the floor while it was being built.

“It was a technical mistake,” he said. “If they would have done this work properly, no one would have died.”

Mr. Sophea, the district governor, said authorities were attempting to contact Mr. Bunthoeun in order to question him over the accident.

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