Donations Pour in After Boy Loses Arm in Brick Factory Accident

An 8-year-old boy who had his arm severed last week in an accident at a brick factory in Kompong Cham province was showered with cash donations over the weekend from leading ruling party figures, the victim’s family said Sunday.

Sen Chan, 27, the victim’s uncle, said his nephew Ros Rath was playing in a brick factory in Mien commune, O’Reangou district, at the time the incident occurred.

“He told me he saw 1,500 riel on the ground beneath the brick-cutting machine and tried to reach for it,” said Mr. Chan, explaining that the boy’s arm got caught in the machinery and was cut off near the shoulder as he was reaching for the money.

After brick factory owner Ket Lach made an initial pledge of 1 million riel, or about $250, to fund the boy’s health care, the victim arrived at the Kantha Bopha children’s hospital in Phnom Penh late Friday evening.

The boy was quickly swamped by cash gifts from ruling party officials and associates after reports of his plight surfaced in local media reports.

On Saturday, just two days after the official pre-election campaign period began, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, a CPP parliamentary candidate for Kampong Cham province, donated $250 to the boy.

On the same day, staff representing Major General Hun Manet, the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, also visited the victim in hospital and donated $300, Mr. Chan said.

The biggest gift came from staff at the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), who visited the hospital and donated $1,250 to the boy.

“Khieu Kanharith contributed nearly 1 million riel,” Mr. Chan said Sunday, adding that he had gone to the official’s home to obtain the money.  “A delegation for Hun Manet went to the hospital to donate $300 for my nephew,” he said.

Mien commune chief In Srean said the boy was initially taken to the provincial hospital, but was later transferred to Phnom Penh after his condition deteriorated.

“We know there are children, though not many, who work after school or during holidays to help their families make money,” said Mr. Srean. In this case, he said, the victim’s family confirmed that neither the boy, nor any other children, worked in the factory, but frequently played in the area.

Mien commune police chief Chorp Sitha said he knew of at least two other incidents since 2001 in which people have lost limbs at brick factories in his jurisdiction.

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