Published: Mon, June 24, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Death toll from building collapse in Cambodia rises to 24

Death toll from building collapse in Cambodia rises to 24

Grim processions of stretchers carrying bodies have punctuated the two days since, as workers claw back the twisted metal and concrete debris.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is heading to the region.

He ordered inspections of all building sites in the town, where condos and hotels are springing up to cash in on the surge in Chinese visitors to its dozens of casinos.

Around 50 workers would normally have been on the site at the time, Preah Sihanouk governor Yun Min said.

Police have detained four Chinese nationals for questioning in connection to the building's collapse, though the cause of the disaster is not yet clear.

"Authorities are working to save them carefully", the statement added.

"We have been concerned for a long time about the quality of these Chinese buildings".

Local authorities on Sunday raised the death toll to 18 - including at least three women - with 24 injured.

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Earthmovers clear debris in Sihanoukville.

"The committee has duties to inspect technical standard, construction licenses, construction standard, safety standard, and quality of buildings at construction sites in Preah Sihanouk province", the decision said. "I was crushed by debris from my waist down", he said.

"I don't think they have survived". "The bodies being pulled out have been flattened".

Previously a small fishing village, it has changed beyond recognition over the last three years with the construction of dozens of hotels, and casinos catering nearly exclusively to Chinese tourists.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia expressed its condolences and said it supported a "thorough investigation" of the accident and the Chinese nationals arrested.

Workers clawed back the rubble overnight as a grim-faced Cambodian premier Hun Sen visited the scene of the collapse in Sihanoukville, a beach town undergoing a Chinese investment bonanza.

Cambodians regularly chafe at what they call unscrupulous business practices, gangland violence and unbecoming behavior by growing crowds of Chinese investors drawn to Sihanoukville and a nearby Chinese Special Economic Zone connected to Beijing's Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative. The condominium was being built in the thriving seaside resort town of Sihanoukville, which has several such Chinese-funded projects.

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