Worker Dies After Mass Faintings in Kandal

A garment worker died on Sunday after collapsing in an economic zone in Kandal province last week with more than 400 others, according to union and labor officials, who believe her death was linked to the faintings.

More than 300 workers fainted at eight factories inside the 7NG Economic Zone in Khsach Kandal district on Friday after 119 passed out at a toy factory there on Thursday. Authorities have blamed the incidents on insecticide being sprayed on a nearby farm.

Seang Rithy, president of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation, said that Chhun Sinon, 27, died after fainting at the Singaporean-owned Starlight Apparel Manufacturing on Friday and then falling violently ill.

“She started vomiting, getting headaches, dizziness and was becoming weaker and weaker. She went for treatment at home and came back [to work] the next day,” Mr. Rithy said.

Upon returning to the factory on Saturday, he added, she experienced a resurgence of the symptoms and was again sent home, where she died at about 7 a.m. on Sunday.

Thun Neang, director of the provincial labor department, confirmed the death and said he believed it was connected to the mass faintings last week, adding that he would send officials to investigate the case further.

“At about 9:30 last night my officials called me informing about that issue,” he said. “She got weak on [Friday] and died the next day. I think her death could be involved with the mass fainting over the weekend.”

Both Mr. Rithy and Mr. Neang admitted they did not know the exact cause of Chhun Sinon’s death.

According to Mr. Rithy, at least seven workers also fainted at the Starlight Apparel factory on Monday. Mr. Neang, however, reported just two faintings at the factory on Monday and two more at another factory, the name of which he said he could not recall. He said the incidents could be due to workers feeling “scared” because of last week’s faintings.

Chhun Samnang, 34, a sister of Chhun Sinon who also works at the Starlight Apparel factory, said she was sure her sister’s death was related to last week’s events.

“Yesterday morning, she fell unconscious at home. We tried to bring her to the Roka Chonloeng health center, but the medical officials said she had already passed away,” Ms. Samnang said.

“I think if there was no mass fainting in the factory, my sister would not have died like this, because before she fainted her health was normal,” she said, adding that she would meet with factory representatives this week and had not decided whether to file a complaint against the management.

Meng Socheath, an administrator at the Starlight Apparel factory, confirmed Chhun Sinon was an employee there, but declined to comment on the case.

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