Four of seven Cambodians killed in a construction site accident in Thailand on Tuesday were employed by Italian-Thai Development Co (ITD) despite crossing the border illegally without work visas, Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.
“Among the seven dead, three are legal. They have been sent by KLM Manpower in Phnom Penh,” he said. “But four have crossed illegally into Thailand.”
Kuong added that among the 14 Cambodians injured in the workplace accident, some were also illegal migrant workers.
The seven were among at least 10 people killed by a falling beam at a construction site in Samut Prakan province’s Bang Phli district, where ITD is expanding the Ramathibodi Hospital’s medical centre, under the supervision of ACSE 110 Consortium.
A woman from ITD, identifying herself only as Kanyakorn, replied to emailed questions about the accident before Kuong’s announcement.
She said that in total, 217 Cambodians had been working on the site and “come from recruitment agency”. She would not elaborate further and did not respond to further questions after Kuong told the Post about the illegal workers.
In her initial response, Kanyakorn said the company would pay compensation to the families of the victims “according to law”, improve safety and increase the number of “safety staff”.
Kuong said ITD had already offered the families of those who died payments of about $600 to cover funeral and transport costs.
“It’s not full compensation, and they will offer more later,” he said.
ITD is a publicly listed company whose projects in Thailand have included roads, railways, government buildings and other infrastructure.
The mournful task of returning the bodies of the Cambodian workers began yesterday, Kuong added.
“All the bodies have left the hospital and are being sent back from Thailand.”
Family members of some of the victims had travelled to Thailand to assist in the process, while embassy officials in Bangkok were helping to arrange for the victims’ bodies to be transported to the border to be collected by Cambodian officials, Kuong said.
“KLM has also sent its representative to Thailand,” he said. KLM will also offer compensation to the victims.”
KLM could not be reached last night to respond to Kuong’s comments, which came after business hours.
In search of better-paying jobs, many Cambodians migrate to Thailand. More than 300,000 work there legally, while an untold number have secured work off the books, including by crossing the border illegally.
An Bunhak, the manager of Phnom Penh recruitment firm Top Manpower, told the Post on Wednesday that his agency had sent 200 Cambodians to work on the project.
He maintained yesterday that none of his staff had been injured or killed, adding that some worked for ITD at separate sites.
“Three or four” agencies provided workers to the hospital project, and at least his would continue doing so, he added.
“We are partners, so we actually called [ITD] and asked them what happened and told them that we regretted it,” he said.
But Bunhak added that he trusted ITD’s safety and legal procedures.
“The safety, I’m quite sure of. We’ve worked with them for 10 years,” he said. “We know they will abide by the law. They are a public company … [so] safety is always a priority.”
Contact details for ACSE 110 Consortium could not be found yesterday.