Seven charged in Cambodia tragedy


PHNOM PENH: A court in Cambodia said that seven people, including four Chinese nationals, have been charged with crimes related to a building collapse that killed 28 construction workers who were sleeping in the unfinished structure that doubled as their housing.

The Preah Sihanouk provincial court said the Chinese owner of the building in Sihanoukville was charged with unintentional homicide, involuntarily causing injuries and aggravating circumstances that cause injury.

The Chinese builder, two Chinese building site managers and three other people of unspecified nationalities were charged with conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The four Chinese nationals were put in pre-trial detention.

The aggravating circumstances charge carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison and the unintentional homicide charge carries a penalty of up to three years in jail.

A court spokesman, Lim Bunheng, said authorities were still looking to arrest the other three people.

The unfinished seven-storey condominium collapsed early on Saturday as the workers slept on the second floor.

Survivors said they heard a loud noise and felt the building vibrate just before it fell.

Authorities have not said what caused the collapse and the provincial court did not explain the basis of the charges in detail.

Rescuers found the last two survivors and the final victims on Monday. In addition to the dead, another 26 workers were injured.

Sihanoukville is a thriving beach resort town that has seen a boom of Chinese-funded projects recently as part of a wider wave of Chinese investment and influence in the impoverished South-East Asian nation.

Chinese businesses have invested several billion US dollars in sectors such as tourism, real estate, agriculture, seaports and casinos.

Several skyscrapers and other big property developments in the capital Phnom Penh and in Sihanoukville and the island Koh Kong have been financed and constructed by Chinese companies. — AP

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