Friday, December 02, 2022

11 students killed as boat capsizes in Cambodian river

KOH CHAMROUN, Cambodia ( Associated Press) – Eleven students crossing the Mekong River in southern Cambodia were killed when their boat capsized, officials said.

Four people – two students and two crew members – were rescued after the accident on Thursday night in a river southeast of the capital Phnom Penh, police said.

Major General Choun Soche, the police chief of Kandal province, said on his Facebook page that the body of the missing 14-year-old boy was found on Saturday morning.

Students between the ages of 12 and 14 were returning from an English class. They lived on an island in the river and, like others in their village, used ferry for transportation almost every day during the rainy season. During the dry season, the river sometimes has little or no water at all and can be crossed on foot.

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The boat was overloaded and did not have a life jacket.

The accident occurred near the Nek Loung bridge on the Mekong, which at the time separates Kandal Province on the west coast from Pre Weng Province in the east. The bridge is part of Route 1, a major road connecting Phnom Penh with Ho Chi Minh City in neighboring Vietnam.

Kandal Luke Deck district police chief M Tu said the accident took place when the boat reached the bank of the river. It began to take water at the bow, and students were asked to move to seats in the midship or stern.

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However, as they moved backwards, the shuttle became unbalanced and overturned.

Police chief M Tu said that both the boat operators have been admitted to the hospital after the accident and legal action will be taken against them. He did not say which charges would apply.

King Norodom Sihamoni offered condolences and prayers for the families of the victims on his Facebook page. Prime Minister Hun Sen also expressed his condolences on the Telegram platform.

Referring to the recent heavy rains, he said, “I urge all the people, especially the people living along the river banks to be extremely careful during this period of floods.”


Associated Press writer Sofang Chiang in Phnom Penh contributed to this report.

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