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Cambodia Charges 7, including Chinese, in Building Collapse

In this photo provided by Preah Sihanouk Provincial Authority, rescuers carry the body of a victim at the site of a building collapse, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia.
Cambodia Charges 7, Including Chinese, in Building Collapse
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A court in Cambodia said that seven people, including four Chinese nationals, have been charged with crimes related to a deadly building collapse.

The collapse killed 28 construction workers. The workers died while they were sleeping in the unfinished building in Sihanoukville, in the country’s south, where they lived.

The court said the Chinese owner of the building was charged with unintentional murder, causing injuries and creating an environment that could cause injury. The Chinese builder, two Chinese building supervisors and three other people of unknown nationalities were charged with conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The four Chinese nationals are being held by police. One of the charges carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison. The unintentional murder charge carries a penalty of up to three years in jail.

A court spokesman, Lim Bunheng, said officials were still looking to arrest three other people.

The unfinished seven-story building collapsed early Saturday as the workers slept on the second floor. Survivors said they heard a loud noise and felt the building move just before it fell.

Officials have not said what caused the collapse. The provincial court also did not provide detailed reasons for the charges.

Rescuers found the last two survivors and the last victims on Monday. In addition to those killed, another 26 workers were injured.

Sihanoukville is a well-known beach resort town on the country’s southern coast. It has seen fast growth in Chinese-supported projects recently.

Chinese businesses have invested several billion dollars in property, agriculture, seaports and casinos. Several skyscrapers and other big projects in the capital Phnom Penh, and in Sihanoukville, and on the island Koh Kong have been financed and built by Chinese companies.

But Chinese investors have been criticized in recent years even as their influence in the country grows. Cambodia has become increasingly dependent on Chinese aid and investment. Cambodia also has become a close political ally of China. It often supports the Chinese government on international issues.

As a result, Prime Minister Hun Sen does not need as much aid from Western countries and is able to ignore calls for human rights from Western democracies. Sen has been in power for more than 30 years.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

construction – n. the act or process of building something

unintentional – adj. not done in a way that is planned

conspiracy – n. a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal

resort – n. a place where people go for vacations

casino – n. a place where people go to gamble

skyscraper – n. a very tall building