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Tragedy hits home

Tragedy hits home

Seven Cambodians are now believed to have been killed and 14 injured by a falling beam at a construction site in Thailand on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

“Cambodian embassy officials in Bangkok are working with the Thai police to find out the identity of all the victims,” he said.

Four Cambodian men and three women were believed to be among at least 10 dead, Kuong added.

“It is a shock, and we are sorry the incident has occurred.”

Hundreds of Cambodian workers are employed at the construction site in Bang Phli district, where an expansion of the Ramathibodi Hospital’s Chakri Naruebodindra medical centre is being carried out.

District police chief Wiwat Chanthanurak said about 30 workers were eating lunch when a beam, measuring five metres wide and 20 metres long, crashed down on them. Construction of the hospital expansion, expected to take about five years, is being carried out by Italian-Thai Development Co, under the supervision of ACSE 110 Consortium.

Neither of those companies could be reached for comment yesterday.

An Bunhak, the manager of Top Manpower, a recruitment firm in Phnom Penh, said his company provided Cambodian workers to Italian-Thai Development in Thailand.

About 200 of them were working at the construction site where the deadly accident had occurred, but had been stationed in a different part of the site, he said. “Workers from my company are safe,” he said, adding that he had been able to account for them all soon after the accident. “They are OK.”

Bunhak added that he was not concerned about the ongoing safety of those he had sent to the site and they would continue to work there.

“It’s not a problem. We have the foremen there. And we always check the safety.”

All of the workers that Top Manpower had sent to work on the hospital were covered by insurance that would cover them if they were injured, he added. Working in Thailand is alluring to many Cambodians striving to escape poverty.

At this particular site, Bunhak said, workers would be earning about $500 to $600 per month – much more than equivalent positions in Cambodia would pay.

The Engineering Institute of Thailand said yesterday that an examination of the project revealed no fault in the building design.

Instead, a representative said, the beam – which formed a bridge between two buildings – had fallen after being struck by another object. The hospital has expressed its regret over the accident.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BANGKOK POST

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