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Cambodia Factory Collapse Kills 3 as 100 Trapped: Xinhua

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- A Cambodian shoe factory partially collapsed today, killing at least two and injuring five, Xinhua reported, citing district police chief Khem Pannara.

Rescue efforts have completed at the Taiwanese-owned factory in Kampong Speu province, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Phnom Penh, the capital. A balcony in the building crashed down after being overloaded with shoes and other materials, the report said, citing Khem Pannara.

The disaster comes three weeks after the collapse of a garment-factory building in Bangladesh killed 1,127 people, the worst industrial disaster in the country’s history. The Bangladesh deaths combined with a series of deadly fires are putting pressure on Western companies to take more responsibility to ensure safe conditions for workers in Asian factories.

Twenty-five retailers including Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA have pledged at least $60 million over five years to monitor safety in Bangladesh factories.

The pledge, which would cost a company like H&M less than 0.1 percent of its annual profit, calls for the appointment of a committee that will oversee safety inspections and a training program for workers, managers and security staff.

Companies would then be required to ensure their suppliers have enough money to repair and renovate factories, according to the agreement announced by the IndustriALL global union.

Hundreds of rescue forces in Cambodia completed a four-hour operation to rescue the workers of the newly-built factory, Xinhua reported. The owner of the plant, Wing Star Shoes, was being questioned by police, according to Xinhua.

Manufacturing accounts for about 15 percent of Cambodia’s gross domestic product, which is among the lowest in Southeast Asia, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Cambodia’s garment and textile exports have tripled over the past decade to $4.4 billion last year, with about three quarters of that sold to the U.S. and Europe, according to data from the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Wong at swong139@bloomberg.net

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