After four days of waiting amid a mounting death count, Yat Meng got a call that his younger brother, Pheng, was found dead yesterday, buried under the concrete slabs of a collapsed condominium just north of Bangkok.
Pheng, 20, was one of two dead Cambodian migrant workers pulled from the debris yesterday. The other was Im Pheur, a 27-year-old from Prey Veng’s Mesang district. Thai police believe that several others remain buried in the rubble, including a third Cambodian man, as up to 16 people have been killed by the fallen six-storey building.
Meng, also a construction worker in Thailand though employed at a different site, said his brother had earned 320 baht ($10) a day at the U Condominium project, one of several jobs he had held after migrating to Thailand two years ago.
“The [Thai authorities] may cremate him [today],” Meng said. “All I can do is bring the bones of my brother back home to Prey Veng for a traditional funeral.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Post that as many as 30 Cambodians had worked at the construction site at the time of its collapse; all were undocumented though “in the process” of legalisation.
Another of the Cambodian workers, Chhim Chan, 60, remained in the hospital yesterday along with four other critically injured Thai workers. Twenty others have already been released from the hospital.
“There’s been no improvement in the safety standards for construction sites over the last 20 years,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia. “These migrant workers are seen as completely dispensable.”
After surveying the project yesterday, the head of the Engineering Institute of Thailand concluded the Pathum Thani district building had collapsed because of a poor design: four pillars at the edges of the structure could not bear all the weight.
The building was one of six condominiums under construction or already built by Thai company Plook Plang Co. Ltd. Five members of the company faulted for the deadly collapse were charged on Wednesday with negligence resulting in death.
If convicted, they face up to 10 years in jail.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BANGKOK POST AND AFP