Thai overpass collapse injures Cambodian migrant workers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Seven Cambodian migrant workers were injured when an overpass under construction in Nokor Reach, Thailand, suddenly collapsed. CENTRAL

Seven Cambodian migrant workers were hospitalised for mild and serious injuries after an overpass under construction in Thailand collapsed on January 23.

The Cambodian embassy in Thailand said that of the seven workers, three were discharged from hospital on January 24, while two were cleared to leave by the evening of January 25.

Of the two still being treated, one is a woman who sustained severe injuries to her right leg. The other worker also has leg injuries, though less severe, and is expected to be discharged from the hospital in the coming days.

“The hospital treatment for the injured Cambodian migrant workers was covered in full by their employer’s insurance. The workers who are still being treated and cannot return to work as yet will still receive their wages according to the law,” the embassy said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Koy Koung told The Post on January 25 that the collapsed overpass was located in Moeurng Nokor Reach Seima district’s Kok Suong commune in Thailand’s Nokor Reach province.

“According to Thai authorities, these workers are covered by insurance and are being treated at Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital.

“There were no fatalities due to the collapse. Authorities and rescue crews have searched for people trapped under the rubble of the broken construction,” he said.

Koung said Cambodian embassy officials had visited the injured workers and brought along some donations for them such as milled rice, noodles, canned fish, soy sauce, face masks, alcohol and money. The embassy is cooperating with Thai authorities to help see to their needs.

The Bangkok Post reported on January 24 that police found that the metal structure which supported the overpass construction had caved in, possibly from heavy cement being poured on it from above. The structure was apparently unable to withstand the added weight and collapsed.

The builder has been ordered to dismantle the scaffolding, clean up the debris and to continue to provide medical support for the injured.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) programme manager Khun Tharo said most construction projects in Thailand were done with foreign labour including many Cambodian migrant workers, most of whom work there without any health insurance or life insurance.

“Most Cambodian migrant workers have no legal documents and face job hazards that carry a high degree of risk. Often, safety equipment is not adequately provided for them when they are carrying out dangerous work,” he said.

Citing his organisation’s estimates, he said there are currently a total of two million Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, with around 30 to 35 per cent of them working in construction or on materials production for infrastructure projects.