One Garment Worker Killed in Collision; Driver Evades Arrest

A garment worker was killed and three others hospitalized in Phnom Penh on Tuesday when the open-topped truck they were riding in on the way to work was rear-ended by an ice truck, whose driver immediately fled the scene, according to police.

Him Phalla, 23, was riding to work in the bed of the truck with 25 others when it was hit from behind on a road in Pur Senchey district at about 6 a.m., said Sim Prem, deputy police chief in Trapaing Krasaing commune.

“The ice truck hit the truck transporting the garment workers from behind. Then one of the women fell out and onto the ground, and the ice truck ran over the victim,” he said.

Seng Chanthorn, head of investigations for the municipal traffic police, said three other passengers were hospitalized with unspecified injuries.

He said the driver of the ice truck appeared to be at fault and that police were searching for him.

Mr. Chanthorn said he knew neither the identity of the driver nor the owner of the ice truck, though in photographs of the accident posted online by local media, a logo for the “Polar Bear” company is affixed to the vehicle.

A woman who answered a phone number listed for the company identified herself as Pov Neary, an accountant for the firm, but said she knew nothing about the crash and could not provide contact information for her superiors because she was newly employed.

The unregulated, open-topped trucks that many of the country’s roughly 700,000 garment workers ride to and from their factories every day are notoriously dangerous, offering only space for standing and no safety equipment. Accidents occur nearly every week.

Mr. Chanthorn said the new traffic law that takes effect on January 1 would require all such trucks to provide a seat for every passenger or face fines.

“It is not possible to eliminate all of the trucks transporting passengers without appropriate seats,” he admitted, “but we will try to eliminate them.”

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