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‘Donation’ for victims of blast

An onlooker examines the damage at a factory left by the explosion of a boiler, which killed two workers on Saturday in Phnom Penh.
An onlooker examines the damage at a factory left by the explosion of a boiler, which killed two workers on Saturday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

‘Donation’ for victims of blast

Investigators have determined a faulty safety valve caused the latest deadly boiler explosion in a garment factory. Ouch Many, director of the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft’s department of technical science and technology, said a safety valve failed to release excess pressure.

“It got stuck . . . So it exploded,” he said yesterday. The explosion at the unregistered Chan Seng Heng garment factory claimed two lives on Saturday in the capital’s Meanchey district, the second such fatal boiler blast in a month.

Many said the official investigation report has yet to be submitted, but the factory owners may be found to be in violation of Article 30 of the Law on Administration of Factories and Handicrafts, which provides for the regulation of boilers by the ministry.

“[The boiler] is not registered with the ministry or checked by the ministry,” he said.

A violation of Article 30 carries a fine of 2 million to 10 million riel (about $500 to $2,500) as stipulated by Article 46, which also states that in a case of accidental death the ministry must seek compensation as well as criminal charges.

“We will submit our report to our superiors and see how it goes,” Many said. However, factory owner Ly Hour, reached yesterday, said: “Now we have reached a deal with the victims; I will donate to them.”

Khoun Sambo, the 30-year-old son of the deceased Kong Phanny, 61, said the company agreed to provide 13 million riel as a “donation” but also had him sign a letter in which he agreed to “finish the case”.

“I am uneducated and my mother is already gone,” he said. Deputy Meanchey District governor Dy Rothkhemarun, said the family of Seurth Pal, 27, received a similar amount.

Hur Meng Varng, deputy chief of the Meanchey district police’s penal crime office, said the boiler technician who installed the boiler – identified as a suspect named Oum, 35 – had not yet been arrested. Meng Varng said he believed the factory owner should neither be held criminally responsible for not hiring a full-time boiler operator nor pay compensation.

“We cannot put blame or accuse the owner for not hiring someone to work closely on the boiler, as the owner said anyone could help on this task,” he said, adding: “Anyone can look after the boiler. There is not such a need for compensation because it is an accident.”

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