Cambodia charges seven over Sihanoukville building collapse

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Prime Minister Hun Sen has fired a top disaster management official in the wake of the deadly accident [Sun Rethy Kun/AFP]

A court in Cambodia charged seven people, including five Chinese nationals, on Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy after a fatal building collapse in the booming beach city of Sihanoukville over the weekend.

At least 28 construction workers were killed when the structure collapsed early on Saturday morning, while 26 were injured. The last two survivors were pulled from the rubble on Monday. The men were sleeping on the second floor of the seven-storey building, which was nearing completion.

The port and resort town has seen a rush of Chinese investment in recent years, especially in casinos, tourism and property, and questions have been raised about construction standards.

Prosecutors charged two Chinese nationals, the building owner Chen Kun and construction supervisor Deng Xing Gui, with involuntary manslaughter, causing unintentional injuries and damage, according to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court.

Three other Chinese nationals, a Vietnamese and a Cambodian were charged with conspiracy related to the charges, the court documents showed.

Chinese investment brings casinos to Cambodia

Authorities have not said what caused the collapse, and the provincial court did not explain the basis of the charges in detail.

The men were not available for comment on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The charges carry prison terms of between three and ten years.

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Prime Minister Hun Sen has already fired a top disaster management official and accepted the resignation of the governor of Preah Sihanouk province where the town is located.

The accident has sparked a public debate about the nature of Chinese businesses in Cambodia, which critics say are allowed to operate without enough scrutiny.

Sihanoukville is home to Cambodia’s largest port and a Chinese Special Economic Zone linked to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.

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