The government working group in charge of collecting donations to support families of victims of the deadly building collapse in Kep province has wrapped up its task on Tuesday.
The group collected $2.2 million and has distributed the money to survivors and the families of those who died in the January 3 incident.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference to end rescue operations at the scene early this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the families of those who died in the collapse would each get $50,000 raised by the government and donors.
He noted that those who survived would get $10,000 each while seven victims who were trapped under the rubble for several hours would receive $20,000 each. He also said he hopes the payout will help ease the suffering and difficulties of victims who were injured and the families of the deceased.
Seng Tieng, Mr Hun Sen’s personal assistant who was in charge of the donation collection, confirmed yesterday that all the dead victims’ families and the survivors received the appropriation.
A total of 36 people, including children, were killed and 23 were injured after the collapse of the seven-storey building in Kep city on January 3.
Mr Tieng said the last six families of dead victims received the donations from the government’s working group on Tuesday.
He said a total of $2.2 million was collected, noting that Mr Hun Sen and his wife donated about $2,500 for each funeral.
“We wound up our task of handing over the money to the families of the victims yesterday [Tuesday],” Mr Tieng said, adding that the families of all 36 dead victims received $50,000 each.
“We gave the survivors cash and deposited money into the bank accounts of the dead victims’ family members for security reasons,” Mr Tieng said. “I can say that now our campaign is finished.”
He added that although the official donation drive had ended, people could still donate money or items directly to the families of the victims.
“Samdech Prime Minister had advised that the entire donation amount must be handed over to immediate family members,” he added. “Samdech said if the family members want to use the money to buy land, the title must be put under the name of the dead victims’ children.”
Mr Tieng said the working group took a long time to disburse the donations because it had to conduct checks to verify which family member was to be the recipient.
Phea Sophon, 26, a survivor from Banteay Meanchey province who lost five family members including his four-month pregnant wife Chhen Khoeun, 23, during the collapse, said yesterday that his family had already received the donation from the government and donors.
“I am still traumatised by the incident. I lost five family members and five others were injured during the collapse,” he said. “We want justice for our family.”
Mr Sophon also expressed his gratitude to the government which paid attention to his family. He said he will appear before the court if he is asked to provide testimony over the incident.
Survivors and families of the dead victims early this week also said they are seeking compensation from the two owners of the building who have been charged with manslaughter over the incident.
Ek Sarun and his wife Chhiv Sothy, from Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville, were arrested a day after the collapse and charged by Kampot provincial court with manslaughter and causing involuntary bodily harm. However, they were released after posting bail of $87,000.
Yim Visuth, one of the lawyers for the plantiffs, has said each of his clients are demanding $50,000 over the deaths and also $50,000 for their injuries.