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Stampede at Shoe Factory, Site of Last Week’s Deadly Collapse

Rescue workers and soldiers search through a site of the accident in a shoe factory in the Kong Pisei district of Kampong Speu province, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital, Phnom Penh, May 16, 2013.
There’s been more trouble at the Wing Star shoe factory in Kampong Speu province, which suffered a partial collapse last week.

Workers at the Taiwanese factory say fears of a short circuit in wiring at the factory Monday caused a stampede of jittery employees, causing about 20 of them to feint.

Factory management said there was not a serious problem but that a rumor of an electrical malfunction was enough to scare workers.

“There was no short circuit this morning,” Chea Sothavirith, head of the factory’s administration department, told VOA Khmer. “A mouse just cut off the wire, which made the wiring smelly.”

Thousands of employees have returned to work at the factory, despite a collapse last week that left two workers dead and 11 others injured.

But Monday’s stampede left many workers too afraid to re-enter the factory, and union leaders requested that employees be given the rest of the day off.

“This morning, there were a lot of people who fainted, and the workers were too shocked and dared not enter the factory site,” Norn Sokleak, a worker at the factory, told VOA Khmer.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, confirmed the incident. Twenty workers were being treated in the local provincial hospital, he said.

Meanwhile, the factory has agreed to compensation to the victims of last week’s collapse, Chea Sothavirith said.

Each of the 11 injured will receive free medical treatment and $1,500 in compensation. The families of two workers who died in the collapse have been offered $6,500 in compensation, he said. A family representative for one of the victims said they had not yet agreed to the offer.