1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Cambodia: Building collapse death toll rises to 28

June 24, 2019

The death toll from a collapsed building continues to rise as rescuers dig through rubble. The disaster has highlighted lax building and labor standards amid a Chinese-funded construction boom.

Rescuers use diggers to remove rubble
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photo/H. Sinith

Rescue crews on Monday continued to claw through rubble of a building under construction that collapsed two days ago in a Cambodian resort town, killing 28 people and injuring another 26. 

The seven-story building collapsed Saturday while construction workers and their families were sleeping inside the condominium in Sihanoukville, where a Chinese-funded construction boom of casinos and hotels has rapidly changed the once sleepy fishing village. 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday said he would take personal charge of the rescue operation as hundreds of rescuers dug through twisted metal and concrete overnight in search of survivors.

Provincial authorities said that as of Monday 75% of the debris had been cleared.

Aerial shot of building collapse
Cambodia's prime minister wants to lead the rescue operation for any workers trapped in the debrisImage: Getty Images/L. Lay

Some survivors said there were as many as 70 people in the building when it caved in, while the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training put the number at 30. 

Many construction workers in Cambodia are poor, informal day laborers not protected by union rules, according to the International Labor Organization. 

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the collapse, but Hun Sen said negligence was to blame. 

Authorities said they had detained four Chinese nationals involved in the construction. 

Read more: Cambodia electricity shortage cripples small businesses

Building accidents are common in Cambodia and the country is notorious for lax safety laws and poor labor protections.

Sihanoukville is a popular resort town that has seen a boom of Chinese-owned casinos and hotels that has raised questions about construction and labor standards.   

Between 2016 and 2018, $1 billion (€880 million) was invested by the Chinese government and private businesses in Preah Sihanouk province, according to official statistics.

cw,mm/amp (AP, AFP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.