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‘Spirit’ initially blamed for shoe factory fainting

The Ministry of Labour’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) yesterday took to Facebook to cite a “spirit” as the cause of a mass fainting at a Kampong Speu shoe factory, before later revising the cause to “poor health and imagination”.

The government health insurance body initially reported 47 people fainted at the Wing Star Shoes factory, which supplies Asics, but later updated that figure to 139. NSSF spokesman Cheav Bunrith could not be reached yesterday, but the initial Facebook post indicated the fainting frenzy was sparked when a worker was possessed by a spirit.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) officer Norn Sophea, who was present on the factory floor, said that the workers fainted when one worker named Heng, 25, who was about to leave work with a fever, started screaming for help and her hands began to shake.

“Workers saw this and they were frightened and so they fainted one after the other. They have been working hard and some have heart problems, so it is easy to get a shock,” Sophea said.

Khou Huot, health operational district chief in Takeo’s Bati district, said 30 workers were treated for exhaustion and headaches with intravenous fluids.

Wing Star and Asics could not be reached for comment, but the factory will have a water blessing today to ward off any lingering evil spirits.

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