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16 Cambodian garment workers killed in horrific road smash


Phnom Penh:  At least 16 Cambodian garment workers were killed and 22 injured on their morning commute today when a bus crashed into the van transporting them, officials said.

Pictures from the crash site showed a scene of carnage with bodies thrown from the mangled wreckage of the garment workers’ van.

“A bus from Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh City) overtook a car and crashed into a van transporting 38 garment workers, killing 16 of them on the spot,” Cheang Am, governor of eastern Svay Rieng province, told AFP by telephone.

He said 22 other workers were injured with eight in a critical condition.

The Cambodian driver of the bus was arrested, the governor added.

Cambodia’s roads are notoriously dangerous.

Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said garment workers routinely travelled in overcrowded vehicles to save money.

“Every month cars transporting workers get into traffic accidents,” he told AFP.

During a speech to graduate students, Prime Minister Hun Sen described the collision as a “big accident”.

“I would like to share my condolences with the families of the victims,” he said.

Svey Rieng is an eastern province on Cambodia’s long border with Vietnam. The main road between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City runs through the centre of the province.

Cambodia’s garment sector has been hit by a series of strikes and protests over wages and working conditions in factories producing items for top Western brands.

Disputes over wages, safety and conditions are frequent and sometimes turn violent.

The multi-billion dollar garment industry employs about 650,000 people in Cambodia and is a key source of foreign income for the impoverished country.

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