Building collapse death toll mounts as rescue continues

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 24 Jun 2019

Victims of the Cambodia building collapse were buried alive as they slept, a survivor said, as the death toll at the Chinese-owned site rose to 18 and desperate rescuers picked through the rubble for signs of life.

There are fears many more workers may be buried as rescuers had scoured barely half of the debris of twisted metal, glass and large concrete slabs after the seven-storey building collapsed in the beach resort of Sihanoukville.

"I'm so lucky to be alive," survivor Phat Sophal, 37, said.

In an ordeal that began before dawn while workers slept, Phat Sophal said he spent six hours trapped in the debris before being pulled out by rescuers.

"There was a loud bang and my floor trembled, suddenly the building went down. I was crushed by debris from my waist down," he said. "My nephew and brother-in-law were also sleeping near me. Everyone was screaming and crying for help. A bit later I stopped hearing them. I don't think they have survived."

About 70 workers were sleeping on the second, third and fourth floors of the building, he said. Chinese electricians were resting on the upper floors.

Three Chinese nationals and a Cambodian landowner have been held for questioning over the building collapse.

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