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House collapse at Boeung Kak lake injures resident

House collapse at Boeung Kak lake injures resident

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Owner claims that stepped-up reclamation efforts after a hiatus during Water Festival are to blame for the loss of her home

Photo by:
Heng Chivoan

A Boeung Kak lake resident shows his displeasure at the view of the newly filled-in section of the lake.

A BOEUNG Kak lake resident was sleeping when part of her house collapsed into the water Wednesday evening, a result, she said, of the quickening pace of reclamation at the lake following a hiatus during the annual Water Festival.

Hok Lang, the 46-year-old mother of five who lost her home, said she has been worried since sand-dredging company HSC began working late into the night, filling in the lake to prepare a controversial 133-hectare development.

"No one was injured except my mother, but some belongings like tables, chairs, wardrobes, were lost in the lake," she said of her family's 6.5-metre-by-3.8-metre wooden house, where over ten people live.

"We are now living under the shelter of another resident's home." Hok Lang's 25-year-old daughter, Sun Ratanak, said her mother filed a complaint on Thursday at the local commune office informing them of the damage.  

Human rights monitors assisting the family said that their rights of access to information were violated when local police turned them away.

Chea Nara, a monitor with local rights group Licadho, said that two foreign staff approached the scene but were prohibited from taking photographs of the collapsed house by a dozen police officers stationed nearby.

"We are not allowed to visit them. The police said this place is under the authorities' control, so before visiting we have to ask permission from the municipal governor," he said. "They violated our rights of access to information, but we were just fulfilling our duty as an independent organisation."

An HSC official said the sand-filling operation had stopped temporarily on the Thursday morning after the incident but disavowed any responsibility for the house's collapse.

"It is not our responsibility. Developer Shukaku Inc and the authorities will be responsible for the damage," he said, adding that they are in the process of solving the problem with Hok Lang.

Hok Lang said Sunday that she met with Srah Chak commune and Daun Penh district officials Thursday and Friday to discuss compensation, and she was offered cash or housing at a relocation site.

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