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Building accident leads to 7 arrests

The site where a woman died from a metal bar falling from a construction site near the Olympic Stadium on Sunday
The site where a woman died from a metal bar falling from a construction site near the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Two managers from the site were detained by district authorities. Vireak Mai

Building accident leads to 7 arrests

Two managers and five workers from a construction company building the $400 million Olympia City development in Phnom Penh were arrested yesterday following an accident that killed a woman on Sunday, police said.

Puth Vanny, 48, was riding a motorbike with her son and his fiancee past the site near the Olympic Stadium when a metal object fell and killed her.

The managers – one Cambodian and one Chinese – and the workers were questioned after the incident, according to a Prampi Makara district police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“After interrogation, they were arrested [yesterday],” he said.

The arrest followed a press briefing in the morning by National Police Chief General Neth Savoeun, in which he called for those responsible for Vanny’s death to be held accountable.

The Olympia City development is owned by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC), which when contacted on Sunday said it was aware of the incident but declined to comment further.

District police said yesterday that they believed Cana Sino Construction Corporation (CSCC) was working on the project as a subcontractor. Neither the OCIC or CSCC would comment yesterday.

Vanny’s family filed a complaint to district authorities yesterday, demanding $100,000 compensation.

Mao Veasna, 27, her son, said representatives from the OCIC and CSCC had failed to meet him yesterday.

“They should come and negotiate with me,” Veasna said.

Vat Sot, 56, a vendor across the street from where Vanny was killed, said it was not the first time that debris had fallen from the building.

“Unfortunately, this time it hit someone,” Sot said.

If charges are brought against those responsible for the accident, it would be an anomaly in a country where construction accidents rarely lead to blame, let alone legal action.

In August 2013, three workers were killed in the space of a week as a result of building collapses. Two of them died when a concrete wall fell on them. Local officials vowed to take action against the owners – who weren’t identified.

The third man’s death, the result of a storage building collapsing in Kampong Cham province, was quickly put down to bad weather and was not investigated further.

In September 2012, four workers were injured when a brick wall at a construction site in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district collapsed. Fingers were pointed in different directions, but no one was held accountable. Workers were given just one paid day off to recover.

Days before it was to shelter hundreds of workers, a newly built – but empty – industrial building in Sen Sok district collapsed without warning. Authorities would not release the name of the building’s owner.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SARAH TAGUIAM

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