At least 10 students drown after river ferry capsizes in Cambodia


KOCHAMROUN, Cambodia—At least 10 students crossing a river in southern Cambodia died after their boat capsized, officials said.

Four people (two students and two boat crew) were rescued after Thursday night’s accident on the Mekong River southeast of Phnom Penh, with one student still missing on Friday said the police.

Maj. Gen. Chun Soshet of the Kandal provincial police said on his Facebook page that the boat was overloaded and lacked lifejackets.

Students aged 12-14 returned from English class on Thursday. They lived on an island in the river and, like the rest of the village, traveled by ferry almost every day during the rainy season. During the dry season, the river may have little or no water and can be traversed on foot.

The accident happened near the Neak Loeung Bridge over the Mekong River. The bridge separates Kandal province on the west bank from Prey Veng in the east. The bridge is part of National Highway 1, the main road connecting the capital Phnom Penh to neighboring Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

Kandal’s Leuk Daek district police chief Am Thou said the accident occurred when the boat approached the shore. Landing on the bow, the students were instructed to move to seats in the middle or aft of the boat.

However, when they returned, the boat lost its balance and capsized.

One of the survivors, 12-year-old Ry Chambora, told relatives in an online videocast for Swift News that despite living near a river, she usually doesn’t know how to swim well. The situation was reflected. She said she jumped out trying to swim face up when the boat sank and she drifted to the river bank.

State officials visited the girl, and King Norodom Sihamoni offered his condolences and prayers to the victims’ families on the royal Facebook page. Prime Minister Hun Sen also expressed his condolences on Telegram’s messaging platform and ordered rescue teams to search for all missing persons.

“I ask all people, especially those living along rivers, to exercise extreme caution during this flood season,” he said, referring to recent heavy rains that may have contributed to the accident. Said.

Police Chief Am Tu said the two boat operators were hospitalized after the accident but would face legal action. He did not mention the crimes they faced.

The World Health Organization said last year that more than 144,000 drowning deaths occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, or 61% of the global total, according to its 2019 assessment.

“Of the 70,000 drowning deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region in 2019, more than 33% were children under the age of 15,” said the UN agency. “On average, men are three to four times more likely to drown than women.”

Hen Sinis

Associated Press