Cambodian shoe factory roof collapses - at least two dead

The ceiling of a shoe factory in Cambodia collapsed while several dozen workers were inside the building early today, killing at least two people and possibly trapping more under the debris.

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.

Mr Pannara said it was unclear how many people were still 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, head of a trade union for factory workers, identified the factory as a Taiwanese-owned operation called Wing Star that produces shoes imported to the US and Europe.

The garment industry is Cambodia’s biggest export earner. Last year, more than 4 billion US dollars worth of products were shipped to the US 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.

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