Safecrackers Suspected in Fire

A blaze early Friday morning at a Phnom Penh garment factory may have been set by burglars who tried to break into the company safe, a factory official said Sunday.

Police have not yet concluded whether the fire at the Suntex garment factory was caused by arson or an electrical short circuit.

The fire, which began at about  1 am Friday, burned down nearly the entire top floor of the three-story building, destroying computers, office furniture, business documents and fabrics, according to police and factory officials.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.

Albert Tan, the factory’s general-manager, said it appeared that someone had tried to open the factory’s safe. “We are not sure yet, but we suspect that a person might have set the fire,” he said.

Tan said the fire started in two different places on the top floor, one close to the accounting office and the other near the production office. Security guards, expatriate staff and drivers were the only employees in the factory compound when the fire started.

Mom Soveth, Dangkor district police chief, said Sunday that police have not determined if the fire was intentional or accidental. He said the police found that electric wires on the top floor were heavily damaged. “We are still investigating the incident,” he said.

Suntex, which opened in 1998, is one of Cambodia’s largest textile companies, employing about 2,500 workers in two shifts.

In August, several hundred workers became sick after eating an end-of-shift meal provided by the factory.



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