The body of a fisherman who drowned in a freak dirt quarry collapse was found on Friday, as officials continued to deny responsibility for regulating or monitoring the massive excavation site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Touch Sloek, a 33-year-old fisherman, was swept away by a rush of water when a wall of earth separating the quarry from a lake broke in Prek Pnov district’s Prek Pnov commune on Wednesday. His body was found floating in the water on Friday by another member of the fishing community, according to commune police chief Vann Doeurn.
“When the body was found, his wife was there and she cried,” Mr. Doeurn said.
The dirt quarry that caused the accident is owned by wealthy businessman Nhoek Phorn, and has been guarded by military police since the accident.
However, both military police officials and the Ministry of Mines and Energy, which is meant to regulate dirt quarrying, have disavowed responsibility in the case.
Asked which authority regulated the quarry, Mr. Doeurn declined to answer. Suos Sokha, a deputy district police chief, said that only Mr. Phorn was responsible for the incident, and would pay compensation to the victims.
Khorn Reth, who was in the fishing boat with Touch Sloek when the accident occurred, said he had already received $400 in compensation from Mr. Phorn, and that the victim’s widow would be paid $1,000.
Eng Hy, spokesman for the National Military Police, said the collapse was nobody’s fault. Asked who regulated the quarry, and why military police were guarding the site, he responded philosophically.
“Regarding the hole in the land, it was allowed, because if it was not allowed, they would not have had the right to dig up the land,” he said.
“I think that they [the military police] would not have the duty guarding the land if they did not receive an order from the high level,” he added. “But if they did not have an order from the high level, that would be wrong, according to military police rules.”