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Disaster rescue teams to be given gold medals

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Members of the search-and-rescue teams who helped the victims from the rubble of the seven-storey building which collapsed on Saturday in Sihanoukville will be awarded gold medals. Facebook

Disaster rescue teams to be given gold medals

Prime Minister Hun Sen will award gold medals to 1,487 members of the search-and-rescue teams who, in a two-day, three-night operation, saved 54 people from the rubble of the seven-storey building which collapsed on Saturday in Sihanoukville.

Twenty-eight construction workers were killed and 26 injured in one of the worst disasters in Cambodia’s recent history.

Hun Sen said on Facebook that he had provided gold medals and funds from his personal budget to the rescue teams, which were made up of members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Military Police, as well as officials from health, port, provincial hall, city hall and other state and private institutions to reward their efforts.

“I would like to confirm that on Tuesday night, I instructed [personal assistant] Seng Tieng to give my money to the 1,487 people who participated in the operation, of whom 35 were women."

“Each receives $100 and each female member $200, which comes to a total of $152,200. I will hand over the gold medals to the rescue team members to reward their efforts,” Hun Sen said.

The prime minister later wrote on Facebook: “Due to requests from some people that I provide more money to the rescue team members, I would like to give each an extra $100, so each man receives $200 and each woman gets $300, which comes to a total of more than $300,000.”

Hun Sen said the money will be given to the members of the rescue teams at a medal presentation ceremony, but he did not say when or where it would take place.

Chab Puthdavy, the deputy commander of Emergency Rescue Company 711 of Brigade 70, thanked the prime minister for the honour.

“I would like to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for the award of the gold medals, which is a great honour for my team. I never expected that such an incident would happen in our country. When we took dead or injured victims from the rubble, my team had tears in their eyes. We cried while saving the survivors."

“When we heard them shouting for help from under the rubble, I really wanted to magically save them all,” she told The Post on Wednesday.

Hun Sen announced on Monday evening that the rescue efforts had come to a close after 54 victims were recovered, with 28 killed and 26 injured.

Lim Samean, the director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial health department, told The Post that as of Wednesday evening, 26 people had been injured in the disaster, with one receiving treatment in a Phnom Penh hospital.

Thirteen of the injured remained warded in Sihanouk Provincial Hospital for treatment, while 12 had been allowed to go home.

“The condition of the 13 has improved and they will be able to leave the hospital in a day or two,” Samean said.

Sok Heng, the investigating judge at the Preah Sihanouk provincial court, issued warrants to detain four Chinese nationals, including a woman, on Monday. They are suspected of being responsible for the collapse.

Chinese building owner Chen Kun, 39, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, causing bodily harm and causing destruction of property under Articles 207, 236 and 414 of the Criminal Code.

Construction contractor Deng Xin Gui, 48; construction worker Gao Yu, 29; and a 43-year-old woman Xie Ya Ping, who oversaw the site, have been charged as accomplices under Article 29.

Hun Sen announced an investigation to ascertain if any official bore responsibility for collapse of the the seven-storey building in Preah Sihanouk province.

The prime minister also called for the creation of a committee to inspect construction projects throughout the coastal province.

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