Noodle Factory Blast’s Death Toll Now at 7

The death toll in Monday’s noo­dle factory explosion and building collapse rose to seven, with a 19-year-old victim succumbing to in­juries at Calmette Hospital on Tues­day, officials said.

Officials said they fear that more bodies will be pulled from the mound of bricks, steel and wood beams where the noodle factory was located in Phsar Kan­dal I com­mune in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district.

Yim Socheat, district police de­pu­ty chief, said that noodle factory worker Sek Ny died in hospital, where she was among 17 people being treated after a large pres­sure cooker exploded, causing the co­llapse of the French co­lonial-era building in which the factory was housed.

“Though we have many forces to do the work, we have difficulty mo­ving the debris because the path [to the site] is narrow,” Yim So­cheat said.

“The workers can smell [de­com­posing bodies] under the de­bris, so we expect to find more dead,” he added.

While relatives of the dead and lo­cal workers used their bare hands and two shovels to move rub­ble on Monday, hundreds of mu­nicipal police officers were brought to the site on Tuesday, said Phnom Penh First Deputy Gov­ernor Mam Bun Neang.

Mam Bun Neang said re­mo­val work must be carried out by hand because bulldozers cannot reach the collapsed building, which is lo­cated behind shophouse.

The colonial-era building was heavily built around and had several concrete and steel structures attached to its original structure, which dated from the 1930s, officials said.

Though officials have blamed the cause of the collapse on an ex­plo­­sion, commune Chief Kong Rith said that his authorities will now compile an inventory of all co­lo­nial-era buildings in Daun Penh district in order to guard against other such incidents.

Mam Bun Neang said that the pressure cooker exploded either be­cause of a technical fault or ne­gli­gence on the part of those monitoring the coal and wood fires that heated the cookers.

Victims can file lawsuits for compensation, but they should wait un­til after the funeral of the two factory owners, a husband and wife, who died in the blast and building collapse, Mam Bun Neang added.


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