Thai / English

Cutting corners can cost lives, survivor says

15 Aug 14
The Nation

GIVING FIRST-HAND accounts about how the U Place condominium in Pathum Thani collapsed on Monday, a survivor said it began with a sling suspended between two top storeys breaking during cement-filling work, which resulted in the entire six-storey structure caving in, killing at least 11 workers.

A Cambodian migrant worker, Art, 20, who lost a brother in the accident, said the workers had been working in a hasty manner before the collapse, as instructed by the foremen, and they occasionally had to work through the night, without sleep.

He no longer wanted to work in Thailand but could not yet afford to return home, as he needed to pay Bt3,000 for his travel back home, after already paying Bt3,000 for his illegal entry through Sa Kaew province.

Art said he saw his brother Imkrua fall from the top floor to the ground, where he was buried by the rubble. His body was recovered yesterday. Art said no assistance had been given to him or other Cambodian workers, who were summoned for information by Thai labour authorities.

Free rice was later provided and cooked for Cambodian workers who survived the collapse.

Imkrua's widow, Tachia, said she had only a Bt20 banknote left, as the employers had postponed the pay three times - from August 5 to August 8, and to August 11, the day of the collapse. There are three other Cambodian workers, all relatives, who are still unaccounted for.

"They are all dead, I suppose. I only wait to see their bodies recovered," she said, in tears.

Tachia said Imkrua had worked in Thailand for six months - for Bt370 a day - before she followed him three months ago - to work for Bt220 a day, after giving birth to a baby girl, whom she raised at the site.

Charn, 38, another Cambodian worker, called for the immediate settlement of unpaid wages from employers, and echoed Tachia and Art on the non-provision of money or other assistance from Thai labour authorities.

Admitting to being an unregistered worker and therefore an illegal immigrant, Charn said he feared not receiving any money or assistance. He called on Thai authorities to send him and fellow Cambodian workers home and pleaded with the employers to pay them the leftover wages.

Anchisa Krongphloy, a relative of four Thai workers and foremen who had been trapped in the rubble, said they all told her about hasty work, but she was unsure whether it was the cause of the collapse.

She said she had seen part of the body of her brother, Klairung Thabkhornburi, which had not been recovered.

Anchisa said even the Thai victims of the tragedy had been offered no assistance by authorities, nor had they contacted her and the other 10 relatives who stayed at the site. There is only an offer by private charities to deliver bodies of the four relatives to their home province of Buri Ram free of charge.

As of yesterday, eight bodies had been retrieved from the rubble and three remained trapped under the debris.