More than 1,000 rescue workers were handed medals yesterday for their efforts in saving lives during the Sihanoukville building collapse last month.
The collapse occurred on June 22, killing 28 workers and burying alive 26 others, the last of whom were rescued nearly 60 hours later.
A three-day ceremony presided over by National Committee Disaster Management first vice president Kun Kim and Preah Sihanouk provincial Governor Kuoch Chamroeun began on Sunday and will continue today.
It followed a statement by Prime Minister Hun Sen saying the government will provide medals and money to all rescue workers who participated in rescue operations.
In a statement yesterday, the Provincial Hall said the medals were given to 1,200 rescue workers consisting of volunteers, police officers, and military police officers.
Mr Kim said the collapse was shocking and a bitter lesson.
Mr Kim said construction sites must be monitored in order to ensure safety standards and avoid another incident.
“On behalf of the government and Prime Minister Hun Sen, I thank rescue teams for rescuing victims from the collapsed building,” he said.
Mr Kim said the authorities should continue to serve residents of Sihanoukville with flexibility and patience.
“Sihanoukville is a developing city – many problems will arise, especially construction problems,” he said. “This requires the authorities to pay close attention to the quality of buildings in order to avoid collapse.”
Major General Chuon Narin, chief of provincial police, yesterday said the incident was a sad moment in history.
Maj Gen Narin said police needed to work with the government to help the city.
“On behalf of the police, officers must join with the government to rescue and help residents,” he said.
Additionally, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces yesterday held its own award ceremony for 188 soldiers who helped in the Sihanoukville collapse.
General Vong Pisen, RCAF commander-in-chief, said soldiers must be prepared to help assist disaster relief and search and rescue initiatives.
“RCAF must train more and be experts in rescue, should another disaster happen,” Gen Pisen noted.