Hundreds sick in mass fainting at Cambodian factory

Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:25am EDT
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By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Nearly 300 Cambodian workers fell sick this week at a garment factory producing goods for Swedish fashion brand Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M), police said on Thursday.

A total 284 workers collapsed on Tuesday and Thursday at M&V International Manufacturing Ltd, a supplier for H&M, in Kompong Chhnang province, 91 km (56 miles) from the capital Phnom Penh, police said. Some reported a pungent smell before fainting.

"Workers smelled something bad coming from the shirts," said 26-year-old Norn Leakhena, a worker at the factory.

Deputy provincial police chief Ly Virak blamed the mass faintings on the "weak" health of workers and said the factory suspended operations until next week to allow its 4,000 workers to rest.

He said 86 workers fell sick on Tuesday and another 198 collapsed on Thursday.

"When one worker collapsed, others also fell sick," he said.

H&M said it was investigating the faintings and said the government, local authorities and the U.N.'s International Labour Organization had "not found any plausible causes so far."

"The root cause of the mass faintings is difficult to establish," Hcan Andersson, a H&M spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.   Continued...