Garment Workers Injured After Truck Veers, Plunges Into Canal

Almost 50 garment workers are recovering from their injuries in the hospital or at home after the flatbed truck that was transporting them home from work in Kompong Chhnang province on Monday evening plunged into a canal, police said on Tuesday.

The driver of the truck, Son Hun, 47, who police said had just learned to drive and had no license, was arrested at the scene and claimed that he had been attempting to avoid a collision with a truck that had veered into his lane, said Chum Vibol, deputy chief of traffic police in Samakki Meanchey district.

“The driver said that a truck transporting rice in the opposite direction violated his lane and he had tried to avoid it, causing him to drive into the canal,” Mr. Vibol said.

“We arrested him and found that he has no driver’s license, no business certificate and expired road tax. He does not have the necessary driving skills because he is just learning to drive.”

Mr. Vibol said all 47 workers were sent to the nearby Te Vanna Clinic, which was so far over capacity that some were treated under an adjoining lean-to, and that the National Social Security Fund would cover the costs. Most of the workers were released from the clinic on Tuesday.

Contrary to Mr. Vibol’s claim that the crash was caused by the driver, district police chief Duong Hong said that an inspection of the scene showed that the “overloaded” truck had veered off the road around 4:40 p.m. due to a malfunction with the steering mechanism.

“Many workers were injured because their heads and bodies were smashed against the walls and floor of the truck,” he said, adding that concussions were the most serious of the injuries but that some of the workers were still being assessed for internal injuries.

Mr. Hun was still being held at the district police station as of on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Hong said.

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