'No more survivors' in Cambodia building collapse as toll hits 24

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The retrieval of bodies from a building collapse in Cambodia continued Monday, as the death toll rose to 24 with no further survivors expected to be found under the debris of the seven-storey Chinese-owned construction site.

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.

The night was punctuated by grim processions of bodies on stretchers being carried to waiting ambulances.

On Monday morning, an AFP reporter saw a partially buried body, covered by a mosquito net to keep off flies in the searing heat, as the debris began to yield after 48 hours of excavation by hand, pneumatic drills and diggers.

"We don't expect any more survivors," a soldier who has manned the scene throughout requesting anonymity.

Preah Sihanouk provincial officials put the death toll at 24, with a similar number injured.

Distraught relatives at a local hospital said around a dozen people were believed to be entombed in the concertinaed floors of the building, which collapsed before dawn on Saturday as dozens of workers slept.

"I lost my husband and my nephew," Khim Pov, 47, crying and hugging her daughter, told AFP while her son - who was able to crawl out from the debris - received treatment.

"I don't have any hope my husband has survived. The bodies being pulled out have been flattened."

Other survivors said they woke to a loud bang and managed to escape as the building folded in, leaving dozens of workers stranded on upper floors.

Death toll in Cambodia building collapse jumps to 18

The death toll in the collapse of a Chinese-owned building under construction at a Cambodian resort rose to 18 overnight while 24 were injured officials said Sunday, as rescue workers scrambled to find survivors buried under rubble.

The building went down before sunrise on Saturday in the casino-resort coastal town of Sihanoukville in southwestern Cambodia, a rapidly developing tourist hotspot awash with Chinese investment.

Four people have been detained in connection with the accident, including the Chinese building owner, the head of the construction firm and the contractor.

A Cambodian landowner has also been held at provincial headquarters for questioning.

The seven-storey building was nearing completion when it collapsed, reportedly trapping dozens in the deadliest such accident in recent years in Cambodia.

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities said 18 people had died in the accident, with 24 injured, according to a statement sent to AFP.
Officials had earlier pinned the number of dead at seven.

More than 1,000 people including soldiers, police officers and medics worked overnight to search for survivors.

Rescue workers earlier pulled victims from a mountain of concrete, wood and twisted metal, some in body bags or with dislocated limbs.

An investigation into the cause of the accident has been launched, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said negligence was to blame.

"The tragedy of the building collapse in Preah Sihanouk province is painful... for our nation, especially the families of those who lost" their lives, he said, announcing compensation of $10,000 each for the victims' households.

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

The building belonged to a Chinese national who rented the land from a Cambodian owner.

The construction firm and contractor were both Chinese-owned as well.

Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, has notoriously lax safety laws and labour protections.

Accidents are common at building sites.

Seven dead in Cambodia building collapse

At least seven people died Saturday when an under-construction building owned by a Chinese company collapsed at a Cambodian beach resort, officials said, as rescuers scoured the giant rubble heap for survivors.

The building went down before sunrise in the casino-resort town Sihanoukville in southwestern Cambodia, a rapidly developing tourist hotspot awash with Chinese investments.

Four people have been arrested in connection with the accident, including the Chinese building owner, the head of the construction firm and the contractor. A Cambodian landowner has also been held at provincial headquarter for questioning.

The seven-storey building was almost 80 percent complete when it crashed down early Saturday, the deadliest such accident in recent years in Cambodia.

"Now the death toll from the building collapse is seven," Sihanoukville city police chief Thul Phorsda said, after officials earlier pinned the number of dead at three.

At least 21 people were reported injured - several critically - and at least three of the dead were Cambodian, including two workers and a translator.

Rescue workers in hard hats pulled people from a mountain of concrete, wood and twisted metal.

Medical workers attended to a shirtless injured man as concerned crowds built up around the site, while scores of soldiers and police joined the search for survivors.

"Teams continue to search for more victims," a provincial official statement said, adding that an investigation into the accident had been launched.

There was no confirmation of precisely how many people were at the building at the time of the collapse, though earlier officials said 30 people were feared trapped.

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

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

Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, has notoriously lax safety laws and labour protections.

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