Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boiler explosion at unregistered garment factory kills two

Boiler explosion at unregistered garment factory kills two

Workers examine a hole in a factory wall left by the explosion of a boiler, which killed two workers in Phnom Penh on Saturday.
Workers examine a hole in a factory wall left by the explosion of a boiler, which killed two workers in Phnom Penh on Saturday. Hong Menea

Boiler explosion at unregistered garment factory kills two

Authorities are investigating a boiler explosion at an unregistered garment factory that killed two and injured four others in the capital’s Meanchey district on Saturday, the second fatal boiler incident in a garment factory in the capital in less than three weeks.

Neth Mony Ponnaka, the director of the Phnom Penh Department of Industry and Handicraft said yesterday said that a specialised team will inspect the Chan Seng Heng garment factory – which opened on April 1 and was not yet registered with the department.

“They made a mistake, and my department was not aware of it,” he said, adding: “We will talk with the owner. The [department] did not get the licence from the company, which violates the law on management of handicrafts, Article 23. This owner could be fined.”

Calls to the factory – which police said employs 20 people – went unanswered yesterday. According to Mony Ponnaka, the boilers were “very old and second hand”.

Stung Meanchey commune deputy police chief Em Thea said the explosion occurred during the lunch break on Saturday, killing security guard Seurth Phal, 27 and cleaner Kong Phanny, 61.

“There would have been more injured if the workers were in the factory because the explosion was very bad,” Thea said.

A visit to the factory yesterday revealed that one of two wood-fired boilers exploded, blowing through walls and roofing, scattering debris across the factory floor and onto the street. Large metal components of the boiler landed as far as 50 metres from where the explosion occurred.

A man looks at a hole in a factory wall left by the explosion of a boiler.
A man looks at a hole in a factory wall left by the explosion of a boiler. Hong Menea

Read more: Cambodia must find new path to protect garment workers

Worker Sam Heurn, 35, was having lunch about 100 metres from the factory at the time. “It was like a big bomb explosion,” he said, adding that he then ran to the scene and saw Kong Phanny bleeding out.

“She told me to call to her son to come here and bring her to the hospital. I was very scared and shocked,” he said.

Reached yesterday, Phanny’s son Khoun Sambo, 30, said that his mother had died at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. He intends to file a police complaint seeking $40,000 in compensation.

Meanwhile, authorities are searching for a boiler technician who was not present during the accident.

Hur Meng Varng, deputy chief of the Meanchey district police’s penal crime office, said a shareholder of the factory had been detained for questioning.

“The man we questioned said there is not anyone in charge of operating the boiler yet,” he said. Meng Varng said the man was released after identifying a suspect “Oum”, 35, who had been hired to install the boiler and had come to the factory on Friday to conduct repairs after fractures had been observed on the machine.

The factory is not listed with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and is likely a subcontractor, a sector of the industry that represents a significant regulatory gap according to the Solidarity Centre’s William Conklin.

“All the major players – [government], brands and GMAC factories (who they are sub-contracting for, since they would have export licenses) all bear some responsibility in regulating and monitoring these factories and ensuring at a minimum there is compliance with laws,” he said.

The latest explosion followed a boiler blast at a factory owned by Zhen Tai which makes clothes for Levi Strauss and Dutch retailer C&A. One person was killed and seven injured at that plant, which is listed with GMAC and the oversight programme of the International Labour Organisation.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and