A 16-year-old female scavenger at the Stung Meanchey dumpsite died Friday, the morning after a trash bin fell from a garbage truck and struck her head, officials and the victim’s family said.
Chantha Srey Mao had worked in the dump since she was 12 years old along with her five siblings to help support her family, her uncle Seng Soeun said, adding that she was unable to go to school because of the time she spent at the dump.
Chantha Srey Mao had fractured her skull and died at the Khmer Soviet Friendship hospital after two clinics refused to treat her, he said.
“Her death has shocked us as she is a main source for her family’s income which relies on scavenging waste to feed stomachs,” he said.
The family filed a complaint with police Friday, he said. He said he was not aware of requests for compensation by her parents.
Chantha Srey Mao had joined a crowd of people Thursday morning chasing a Cintri garbage truck in order to get first pick at the bottles and cans in the truck’s hold, said Stung Meanchey dump site director Sao Kunchhon.
At 5:20 am, a trash bin slipped off the moving truck and struck several scavengers, he said.
The waste-workers driving the truck immediately took two wounded victims, including Chantha Srey Mao, to receive medical attention,” he said. The other victim only suffered from cuts, he said.
“The truck did not run over or hit those scavengers, he said. “The waste workers might have tied the iron trash bins improperly.”
Commune police chief Mao Savoeun said police are investigating the case.
Seng Chamroeun, deputy director of waste management at Cintri Ltd, Phnom Penh’s principal trash collector, said officials have done their best to warn scavengers not to chase moving trucks.
“Our firm installed signs informing scavengers that if they disobey, the firm would not be responsible for any possible accidents that can cause injury or death,” he said.
“It is not our firm’s fault,” he said, adding that Cintri has paid medical expenses for the injured, he said.
Seng Soeun said the family has not been contacted by Cintri.