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Building collapse a mystery


A brand new industrial building crashed to the ground yesterday in the capital’s Sen Sok district, leaving no victims, but sparking fears that hundreds of people could have been killed had the collapse occurred just days later.

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Keov Sothut, police chief of Phnom Penh Thmey commune, told the Post yesterday that the building, measuring 40 by 160 metres, had collapsed just six days before it was due to officially open.

The building, which appeared to have been a warehouse or factory, was empty when a 100-metre section collapsed without warning or obvious reason, he said.

“Based on initial evidence, we can only assume that the collapse of the building was the result of a technical malfunction relating to its construction,” Keov Sothut said.

A security guard at the site had told Keov Sothut that the owner had planned to hold an inauguration ceremony for the building, in Phnom Penh Thmey commune’s Damnak village, this Saturday.

Khoun Sreng, Sen Sok district’s governor, told the Post that the Phnom Penh municipal hall and urban management department had granted permission for construction of the building, which had been finished in January.

He would not tell the Post who owned the building or what it was to be used for.

Khoun Sreng had tried to contact the owner and the construction foreman yesterday to discuss the collapse, but had not been able to reach them.

“It is fortunate that this building was not yet in use when it collapsed,” he said.

“If the building was going to be a factory with hundreds of workers on any given day, how many people would have been killed or injured in this kind of collapse – and who would have been responsible?” he said.

Khoun Sreng said he will set up a committee that includes urban management officials, the local authority, the building’s owner and the construction foreman to investigate and evaluate the technical standards of the building and the reasons for its collapse.

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