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Boss blames panic on alarm

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Workers from the Zhen Tai Garment (Cambodia) Co Ltd factory recover at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh after a group of them fainted yesterday.

About 2,000 workers fled a garment factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and an estimated 30 workers fainted yesterday after sparks started flying from a generator and a fire alarm went off at 10:00am. 

Sen Sok district police chief Mok Hong said “workers panicked after hearing the fire alarm and rushed out the building”. He said “the generator wasn’t bursting into flames, but there was smoke and some workers fainted”.

“This is the first time I’ve fainted in the factory,” said employee Khin Srey Pov, speaking from hospital.  

“When we saw so many factory girls fainting as we tried to escape with the crowd, more of us fainted.”

Her colleague So Ya said she panicked when she heard the fire alarm. “I think that we are all in good shape, but we were terrified. When I saw another factory worker faint, I fainted too,” So Ya said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said the episode highlighted safety concerns at the facility. “Some of the factory workers ran into machines as they tried to escape. I think that the company should have safer exit procedures,” he said.

A manager at Zhen Tai Garment (Cambodia) Co Ltd, however, downplayed the incident, blaming it on the person who pulled the fire alarm. Zhen Tai’s chief of administration Kea Cheakea said there had been no reason to pull it.

“My factory doesn’t have any safety issues,” Kea Cheakea said.  “There was no fire. The generator just got really hot and there were some sparks. Then, someone pulled the fire alarm and then everyone panicked.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING KRISTIN LYNCH

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