Cambodia building collapse kills three, with many trapped under rubble

Police arrest Chinese woman in connection

By Sandi Sidhu and Tara John, CNN
CNN image

(CNN) - A seven-story building collapsed in Cambodia's coastal Preah Sihanouk province, killing three people, seriously injuring 18 and leaving many trapped under the rubble.

The building, which was under construction and slated to become a hotel, collapsed at 5 a.m. local (6 p.m. ET) in southwest Cambodia, according to a statement released by Cambodia's General Commissariat of National Police.

"We have pulled out a body and we see two more bodies still stuck between debris," Yun Min, the governor of Preah Sihanouk province, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

Images of the site showed an excavator digging into the debris during the ongoing search and rescue operation.

Police are questioning a Chinese woman arrested hours after the collapse, it said in a statement. She admitted she was responsible for the building site, police added.

AFP reported that the building belonged to a Chinese national, who rented the land from a Cambodian.

The estimates of the number trapped under the fallen building has varied.

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that between 40 and 50 workers were sleeping in the construction site during the collapse, quoting Provincial Governor Yun Min.

As the rescue effort went into the afternoon, the Governor told AFP that 20 had been rescued. "So far...we still can't say exactly how many are trapped in the debris," he said, adding some may not have been at work at the time of the accident.

But a Ministry of Labor statement seen by AFP said the number of the buried could be fewer than 10.

The beach town of Sihanoukville was a sleepy fishing village before it became a haven for backpackers. It has since seen Chinese investment flood in, as well as the opening of a number of Chinese-owned casinos, AFP reported.

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