Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man killed as gate collapses

Man killed as gate collapses

A man stands by a section of the fence that collapsed
A man stands by a section of the fence that collapsed yesterday morning, killing one person. Pha Lina

Man killed as gate collapses

When a neighbour shouted that someone had been killed by a collapsed gate yesterday, Mao Moun, 69, didn’t think it could have been his own son.

But after he rushed to the stretch of land by the Mekong River that his son was overseeing for a Cambodian business tycoon, Moun discovered the tragic truth.

A funeral for Noun Phearak, 23, was held shortly afterwards.

Phearak was a construction worker and vegetable farmer who helped look after a plot that Ly Say Khieng, CEO of SKL group, planned on developing into a holiday home.

Chin Charmoeun, 31, one of the other overseers, said he was almost killed by the heavy metal gate’s fall too.

“Noun came over at 1am on Tuesday. And then we opened the gate and it collapsed on my friend,” said Charmoeun, who escaped unscathed.

Hit in the head, Phearak died instantly and was not taken to hospital.

The incident – along with a recent factory-floor collapse, and the death of a motorist in a construction accident – adds to a growing body of evidence that building standards and safety are not keeping apace with Cambodia’s booming industry.

According to another person overseeing the land, 40-year-old Ly Thieng Ngok, the gate had long been a concern since it was built a year ago.

“It was only built a year ago, and there were no standards,” said Thieng Ngok.

“Every day, I am afraid of the gate collapsing. It is so heavy and the women don’t dare to open it.”

According to a report recently released by the UK’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Cambodia badly needs to introduce proper building standards and develop “a building control profession to undertake the compliance checking and enforcement of these standards”.

Dave Welsh, country director for the US-based Solidarity Center, said smaller sites with informal workers “are especially vulnerable” to safety issues due to a lack of regulation and accountability.

While officials promise to begin work on a national building standards bill as early as this year, such a hazy prospect is little comfort to the family of the deceased.

Speaking through tears at her brother Phearak’s funeral, 44-year-old Noun Saveth said everyone in the village demanded police replace the gate with a lighter one made of wood.

“Do not build the same gate again. It is unsafe. It will cause an accident to someone else.”

However, despite the tragic event, compensation remains uncertain.

Phearak’s family filed a complaint to local police for damages, but Ly Say Khieng, who never visited the property, was nowhere to be found yesterday.

“Police are looking to contact him, but there is no information from him yet,” said Loh Sitha, police chief of Chambok Meas commune.

Mao Moun, Phearak’s father, said “this is my son’s life”.

“He must get some compensation because of the unsafe gate,” Moun continued.

According to Sok Sam Oeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, compensation in construction workers’ accidents can be difficult to immediately obtain, and families are often forced to bypass the court system.

“Right now, the compensation through the courts can take so long, so people [opt] for payouts.”

Ly Say Khieng could not be reached for comment.


  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Cambodia stands firm on 5PC: No invite for Myanmar to ASEAN Summit this year

    Cambodia has not invited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), to the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related meetings scheduled for next month in Phnom Penh. The government will instead invite a non-political representative from Myanmar

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Hun Sen’s rare visit to Cuba: What’s going on?

    Back on August 17, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that he would deliver a speech at the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN headquarters in the US’ New York City, visit Cuba and attend the state funeral of the slain Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo