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Sinkhole Opens in Phnom Penh, Worrying Residents


​​Onlookers watch the cars sink in a hole by a construction site by Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium after a heavy rain on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (Courtesy of SBN)

​​Onlookers watch the cars sink in a hole by a construction site by Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium after a heavy rain on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (Courtesy of SBN)

The city is thought to be at high risk of sinkholes due to its position astride numerous lakes, which the government has filled in over the years to expand the land on which it can build.

The onset of monsoon rains in Phnom Penh this week opened a sinkhole on a busy road close to the iconic Olympic Stadium.

The city is thought to be at high risk of sinkholes due to its position astride numerous lakes, which the government has filled in over the years to expand the land on which it can build.

Residents living close to a large skyscraper project next to the sinkhole have become concerned.

Hout Hang, 60, who saw the road collapse during a rainstorm on Wednesday, said he had watched in amazement as the tarmac gave way.

“It just suddenly happened, and three cars fell into the sinkhole,” he said. “Luckily the cars were just parked there, otherwise, if people were driving, it would be dangerous and could have killed people,” he said.

“I think the construction is too close to the road and that made it collapse,” he added, referring to a nearby construction site.

Prak Heng, 49, a moto-taxi driver, said the collapse had followed hours of torrential rainfall.

“We all went to see what had happened and search for the cars’ owners.”

Se Veoun, 60, a local resident, said the community was now scared that the same could happen on their property.

“Before this huge construction project started, nothing like this happened. If it rains again, sinkholes might happen again, unless the construction is finished.”

An excavator fixes the road after three cars were swallowed by a sinkhole on the side of the street by a construction location by Olympic Stadium while it was raining this afternoon in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

An excavator fixes the road after three cars were swallowed by a sinkhole on the side of the street by a construction location by Olympic Stadium while it was raining this afternoon in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

The project, which will include luxury homes and condominiums alongside a shopping complex, is being built by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation, directed by tycoon Pung Kheav Se.

In late 2014, a woman was killed while driving by the project when construction materials fell from the site.

A construction worker at the site this week, who declined to be named for fear of losing his job, said he was also worried about the collapse, but did not think the construction was to blame.

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada said on Thursday the authority will “urge the construction company to pay close attention to technical standards.”

An OCIC representative was quoted by local media denying a link between the development and the sinkhole.

But Sok Kin, vice president of the Building and Woodworkers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said the low quality of the road combined with how close the construction was to the area of collapse were to blame.

“The investor is the one who benefits, yet the people are the victims,” he said.

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