PHNOM PENH, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Death toll in the collapse of a six-story building in southwest Cambodia's Kep province on Friday rose to 36, as rescue work had completed, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Sunday.
"A total of 36 people, including 14 females, were pronounced dead, as 23 others, including eight females, were injured in the collapsed building," he said at a press conference at the end of the rescue operation.
All victims were Cambodians, and among them were a male contractor, construction workers and their family members, including children.
The building came down at around 4:30 p.m. (local time) on Friday in Kep city when workers were pouring concrete to build the seventh floor.
As a probe into the incident has been conducted, Hun Sen blamed the male contractor, who was also killed in the rubble.
"A preliminary probe indicated that there were two mistakes already," Hun Sen said.
First, the contractor used smaller steel bars than the steel bars required in the building's masterplan and second, the contractor removed the wooden scaffolding supporting wet concrete slabs in 10 days, as the safe period for the removal was 28 days, he said.
"The contractor's mistake resulted in this tragedy," the prime minister said, adding that the building's owners -- a local man and his wife have been arrested and will be sent to court for prosecution.
Hun Sen expressed his deepest sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured people in the incident.
He said families of the victims who died received 52,500 U.S. dollars each and those who were injured got 10,000 dollars each.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said none of his officials will be held responsible for the collapse of the building.
Hun Sen said such an incident will be reduced or eliminated in the future when the recently-adopted construction law is fully enforced.
An official at the Kep Provincial Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said on Friday that the building's owner had applied for a license to construct a five-story building, but he illegally built it up to seven floors.