Preah Sihanouk elevator falls 15 floors killing 4, injuring 1

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Four people died at a construction site in an elevator accident in Preah Sihanouk province on May 20. SUPPLIED

Four construction workers died and another was hospitalised after an elevator plunged 15 storeys in the coastal Preah Sihanouk province. Authorities are searching for the owners and contractors of the building.

The incident happened on the morning of May 20, at a construction site located on Sete Street in Sihanoukville’s Commune 3.

According to provincial police chief Chuon Narin, three of the deceased died instantly at the scene while the other succumbed to his injuries after being admitted to the provincial referral hospital. The injured worker was later transferred to the Cambodia-China Friendship Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh for intensive care.

Narin told The Post that construction of the building had reached the 19th floor, noting that the Cambodian owner planned to build a 21-storey condominium.

He said that after the accident, police brought the site manager in for questioning about the management of the building.

“We have spoken with the site manager and are now searching for the building owner and the contractor so we can ascertain the precise management structure of the project. We want to find the person responsible,” he said.

The police chief did not give further details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Yov Khemara, director of the provincial Department of Labour and Vocational Training, said the his department was working with the provincial administration to investigate the incident.

He said initial findings revealed that the elevator cable had snapped due to too much weight being added to the car.

“The escalator was overloaded. According to construction regulations, people should not have been using that elevator – it should only have been used to move materials. On the day of the accident, the operator loaded a large amount of cement and rode the car down. The cable snapped at the 15th floor,” he said.

He said that because the site is not registered with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), responsibility falls on the building’s owner.

“If it was registered with NSFF, death and injury costs would be covered. As it was never registered, the owner is responsible for providing for the people who were affected by this terrible accident,” he said.

He said he was helping to mediate what compensation would be provided, although negotiations were not yet concluded as official findings had not yet been released.

“Sometimes an informal settlement can be more beneficial than the experience of going through the legal system. Many people have been very successful with informal agreements, with some getting from $5,000 to $20,000 in compensation, depending on the exact circumstances. If solved via the courts, compensation is likely to be about five million riel, or around $1,250,” he said.

Khemara said that earlier in the year, an electric shock killed one person on a construction site, and this was the province’s second serious industrial accident this year.

He added that he had never heard of an elevator cable snapping in the province, although he did recall a similar case happening in Phnom Penh.

He noted that of the four deceased construction workers, one of them woman, one was a native of Preah Sihanouk with the others hailed from Oddar Meanchey and Takeo provinces. The man who remained hospitalised in the capital was from Kampong Chhnang province.