The ceiling at a Cambodian shoe factory making Asics sneakers collapsed early Thursday, killing 2 workers. The accident spotlights continued safety problems in the garment industry.
The factory, owned by a Taiwanese group called Wing Star, was located to the south of Phnom Penh. Shoes made at the factory are imported by the United States and Europe. The building where the collapse occurred was mainly used for storing production equipment, but had about 50 workers in it when it caved in. Heavy equipment stored on the floor above the small work area may have caused the collapse.
Kong Thary, a 25-year-old worker at the factory, told NPR, “We were working normally and suddenly several pieces of brick and iron started falling on us.”
Seven injuries were reported, and rescuers searched the rubble for hours to make sure that no one else was stuck inside.
The factory complex opened about a year ago. The garment industry is Cambodia’s biggest foreign currency earner, with more than $4 billion in products shipped in 2012.
This incident, coming weeks after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh killed over 1100, demonstrates that safety is an industry-wide problem – not confined to one country.