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Cambodian shoe factory collapses

16 May 2013, 10:43

Phnom Penh — The ceiling of a shoe factory in Cambodia collapsed while several dozen workers were inside the building early on Thursday, killing at least two people and possibly trapping more under the debris, police said.

The ceiling is believed to have caved under the weight of heavy iron equipment being stored on the floor above, police officer Khem Pannara said. Two bodies have been pulled from the wreckage and at least seven people were injured in the factory south of the capital, Phnom Penh, he said.

Pannara said it was unclear how many people still are under the collapsed area.

"We were working normally and suddenly several pieces of brick and iron started falling on us," said an injured 25-year-old Kong Thary, crying on the telephone as she recounted the scene from a nearby clinic.

Chea Muny, chief of a trade union for factory workers, identified the factory as a Taiwanese-owned operation called "Wing Star" that produces shoes imported to the United States and Europe.

The garment industry is Cambodia's biggest export earner. In 2012, more than $4bn worth of products were shipped to the United States and Europe.

About 500 000 people work in more than 500 garment and shoe factories throughout the country.

The accident comes about three weeks after a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1 127 people in the global garment industry's deadliest disaster. Bangladesh is the third-biggest exporter of clothes in the world, after China and Italy.

- AP


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