Seven bodies have now been pulled from the remains of a house that collapsed early Tuesday morning. Rescuers face the grim task of finding six people still missing.
The six missing are thought to be buried in the concrete and brick rubble that is all that remains of the four-story apartment building, located one km east of the Monivong Bridge on National Route 1, officials said.
The house was under construction and many of the dead and missing are believed to be construction workers who were asleep at the time of the collapse.
Some of the missing were sleeping on the first floor, according to Sok Ny, the younger sister of a missing woman.
“My older sister worked here for about six months with my cousin Yon Yann and I, but I had to move to another construction site two days before the building collapsed,” she said Wednesday.
Approximately half of the 10-meter pile of bricks and twisted metal poles that remained after the collapse had been removed from the site by Wednesday morning.
The building was built above a small pond, and the lower levels of the debris are buried underwater, slowing the rescue effort, according to Ou Maret, deputy governor for Meanchey district.
Three dead workers have been pulled from the debris and identified as Chan, a 33-year-old woman, Sok Han, a 37-year-old woman, and Yen Yann, an 18-year-old man, according to a relative of one of the victims.
Those missing include two women, Ny, 30, and Pich Kna, 17.
Three men’s bodies were also found buried in the rubble, rescue workers said, one of them Tuesday afternoon and other two Tuesday night. They were not identified.
Survivors included a woman and her toddler who were pulled from the rubble about 10 hours after the building collapsed at 1:40 am Tuesday. The woman’s husband was killed in the collapse.
Phnom Penh governor Chea Sophara said the city has not yet found Mean Hour, the building’s owner. Chea Sophara said he believes Mean Hour is on the run from authorities.
He said Mean Hour will be presented to the Municipal Court with whatever evidence the city can find against him. He said he did not yet know what charges would be leveled against Mean Hour, or if he would be charged with murder.
“We will let the court work that out,” he told reporters at the site of the house collapse. “The owner does not care about people.”