Noodle Factory Explosion Kills 6, Injures 17

Six people were killed and 17 in­jured when a French colonial-era buil­ding housing a noodle-making factory collapsed in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district after a pressure cooker exploded early Mon­day, officials said.

More than 40 people were wor­king and sleeping in the factory when the explosion occurred at around 2 am, collapsing the building and toppling adjacent concrete structures that had been built on and around the factory located be­hind shop houses in Phsar Kandal I commune.

Two workers are still missing and believed buried beneath the de­bris and rubble at the site, Daun Penh district police Deputy Chief Yim Socheat said. The two missing men were assigned the job of mo­nitoring the wood-and-coal bur­ning fire on which the pressure coo­kers rested, Phsar Kan­dal I com­mune Chief Kong Rith said.

“The district governor ordered to search for those men under the pile of bricks or to see if the two men es­caped from the spot,” Kong Rith said, adding that two of the 17 in­jur­ed were sent to Cal­mette Hos­pital in critical condition.

Factory owners Chea Pheang, 52, and his wife Lim Keang, 46, were killed along with three male workers: Ing Sopheak, 24, Veng Loeuk, 24, Phorn Na, 32, and fe­male worker Ky Ing, 24, police said.

A large pressure cooker used for making noodles exploded, sen­ding boiling water through the factory, said worker Chhet Pach, 26, who lost a brother and a cousin in the accident.

“I heard one of the large pressure cookers explode and at the same time the building collapsed,” Chhet Pach said at Calmette Hos­pital.

Being treated at Calmette Hos­pi­tal for burns from the boiling wa­ter, Phon Yen, 22, said she was res­cued from the rubble after being trap­ped for 20 minutes.

“I had given up hope that I would live,” she said.

About two dozen family members and workmen labored furi­ous­ly with small hammers and one large sledgehammer Mon­day mor­­ning to clear the mounds of bricks, mangled steel and wooden beams where the factory once stood.

Rebuilding on and around the co­­­lonial-era building added to the breadth of the collapse. At least one concrete walkway had been built between the factory and the adjacent shop houses.

Without any sign of overall coordination or obvious presence of spe­­cialized search-and-rescue teams, the workers dug with their hands to search for survivors and valuables. The purchase of two shovels helped their efforts, but work proceeded slowly.

On a number of occasions, work­­­men called for silence as they strained to listen for the sounds of survivors below the rubble.


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