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Workers fear for jobs after blaze guts Meanchey garment factory

Workers fear for jobs after blaze guts Meanchey garment factory

A FIRE destroyed a garment factory in Meanchey district’s Chakangre Krom commune in Phnom Penh on Saturday night in an incident that factory officials say may have been caused by an electrical fault after a Khmer New Year party organised for the factory’s employees.

The garment factory – owned by the company Supertex Ltd – was destroyed, along with over 1,000 tonnes of clothing, more than 500 sewing machines, three overlocking machines and three garment-controlling machines.

Mann, a factory administration official who wished to withhold his full name, said the blaze started around 8:45pm, following a party organised for workers who had just been paid.

“No workers were injured in the fire,” he said. “The security guards told me last night that the fire was caused by electricity.”

A security guard, who wished not to be named, said he heard the sound of electricity before the blaze occurred. “The fire jumped from the electricity line to the warehouse,” he said.

Net Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department, said officers fought the fire for six hours, but it continued to burn until Sunday morning.

“We did not sleep at all when we tried to save the factory, but we could not because the factory is too big,” he said. “The factory owner did not fully cooperate with us.”

Workers at the Supertex factory, which employed 2,750 people, are concerned that they will be unemployed when they return from Khmer New Year, because the fire destroyed all the raw materials in the factory.

Phan Chanthy, who worked for five years at the factory, said the workers were allowed to take a weeklong holiday to enjoy the New Year festivities, and were due to return to work on April 19.

“I am very worried, because it will impact my job and my income,” she said. “I feel pity for my boss as well.”

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