A 19-year-old garment worker died on Thursday after falling ill at the Or Sambath factory in Prey Veng province, while a total of 16 workers fainted in the day following her collapse, leading to a temporary closure of the factory, local police said.
The woman who died, Ran Sreyneang, started having trouble breathing and collapsed at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, according to provincial police chief Sreng Chea.
“The victim was sent to the provincial hospital for treatment, but she died of asphyxia,” he said.
Mr. Chea said it was still unclear what had caused the woman’s breathing difficulties, and that provincial health officials would conduct an autopsy.
Four workers fainted out of fear immediately after watching Ran Sreyneang fall ill, while 12 other workers fainted at work on Friday morning after claiming they could not breathe, although conditions in the factory appeared normal, Mr. Chea said.
“On Thursday I went to the factory and there were no bad fumes affecting the health. The air was flowing normally and inside it was not too hot,” he said.
“But now we see 12 workers fainted, so we decided to close the factory for a few days and wait for the labor department and the health department to check the environment before workers return to work.”
Mr. Chea said the 12 workers had been sent to the Svay Antor district hospital, but were not in serious condition and would be sent home on Saturday.
Ung Chanthoeun, director of the provincial referral hospital, said doctors there tried to resuscitate Ran Sreyneang for 30 minutes after she arrived at the hospital, but that she could not be revived.
“We could help the victim only for 30 minutes, but her situation was that she had too much asphyxia before reaching the hospital,” he said.
Mr. Chanthoeun said Ran Sreyneang appeared to be otherwise healthy and it was not clear why she had stopped breathing and died.
The Or Sambath factory, which is located in Svay Antor district, was formerly a subcontractor to a factory that produced garments for global fashion retailer H&M, according to Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Community Legal Education Center. He said he did not know if that was still the case.
Factory representatives could not be reached.