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Garment workers are treated by medical staff at a provincial hospital in Svay Rieng on Wednesday night after two buses collided, injuring more than 80 people. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Scores injured in truck crash

More than 80 workers were injured in Svay Rieng province on Wednesday evening, after two trucks in which they were travelling collided as one attempted to overtake the other.

The accident occurred in Bavet town’s Chrok Mates commune at about 6:50pm, after workers had finished shifts at factories in the Manhattan and Tai Seng special economic zones.

According to Pel Samul of the National Social Security Funds’ Svay Rieng office, five of the victims suffered serious injuries, while 77 more had to be hospitalised.

“The National Social Security Funds is covering all of the treatment expenses for those injured workers,” he said.

Of the five seriously injured, four are being treated at Svay Rieng Provincial Hospital, while the other is at a private clinic. Those hospitalised with minor injuries were sent to Chiphou Referral Hospital.

According to police, the collision occurred when one of the trucks attempted to overtake the other on the right because oncoming traffic prevented the driver from crossing into the opposite lane.

One of the passengers on the rear truck, Om Samak, 34, yesterday described the incident from Chiphou Referral Hospital, where he and his wife were receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the crash.

“The vehicle was driving fast and some workers were standing,” he said. “The driver decided to overtake on the right and forcefully ran into the back of the first truck.

The workers on our truck fell all over each other and some of them were left unconscious”.

According to Svay Rieng provincial police chief Koeng Khorn, both drivers disappeared from the scene and are wanted for questioning. “We know where they live,” he added.

According independent road safety specialist Ear Chariya, the accident is just the latest reminder of the grave consequences of severe overloading of factory workers’ vehicles.

“The state has to educate the workers, drivers and factories about road safety, and factory owners should provide low cost transportation with proper seats and safety,” he said.

The accident came less than 24 hours before Svay Rieng Provincial Court opened the trial of Le Vang Phing, the Vietnamese national behind the wheel of a bus during a fatal May collision that left 19 garment workers dead.

The bus crashed headlong into a van overloaded with garment workers as it attempted to pass another vehicle on National Road 1 in the province’s Svay Teab district.

Ean Rim, whose wife was killed in the crash, told the Post yesterday that Phing told the courtroom he had been driving carefully. “The accused told the court in Vietnamese through a translator that he drove slowly, only 30-40 kilometres per hour, but we can’t believe that. He was speeding and caused people to die.”

Families of the deceased are seeking $20,000 in compensation, while those injured are seeking $10,000 each.

The verdict is due on October 8.

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