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Cambodia Shoe Factory Ceiling Collapses; At Least Six Dead In Latest Industry Disaster

The collapse of an over-loaded floor in a Cambodian shoe factor is the latest fatal accident in a series of deadly fires and collapses in third world garment factories.

Six workers are known dead in the disaster at a factory near Phnom Penh, the nation’s capital.  The factory supplied footwear to Asics Corporation, a Japanese company, which sells its products in the U.S. and internationally.

Rescue efforts continued at the site a day after the accident.

According to reports, the collapse occurred due to a floor bearing an exceptionally heavy load of material.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of this terrible accident,” said Asics spokeswoman Masayo Hasegawa.  “Safety is of paramount importance for Asics.

But in view of the recent rash of fatal garment industry disasters, safety may be secondary to low-cost construction and manufacturing.

About eighteen months ago, a subsidiary of Asics partnered with a  Taiwanese firm to build the now partially destroyed factory, called Wing Star Shoes. More than 6,000 workers were employed at the facility.

Specifically, the collapsed area was a mezzanine floor built about two months ago and was used to connect buildings and as a storage area.

Stored on the fallen floor were pallets of cardboard shipping cartons, wrapping tissue and other supplies.

Management for the factory promised compensation for the victims, including $1,000 for funeral arrangements.

Cambodia’s garment industry has grown in recent years as foreign apparel makers, ever-vigilant for competitive pricing, came to the country for its low-cost production. Last year Cambodia exported about $4 billion in garment and apparel products to the U.S. and Europe.



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