Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cambodian survivors tell of their festival stampede hell

November 24, 2010
Martin Petty and Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH: Buddhist monks chanted as onlookers gazed silently across a bridge piled with the shoes and torn clothing left by victims of a stampede in Cambodia's capital here.

The body count stood at 375 yesterday and was expected to rise. About 755 people were injured and many people are missing.

The stampede on the Diamond Gate bridge occurred late on Monday, the last day of the yearly three-day Water Festival marking the end of the rainy season.

"Everyone is shocked that this can happen to us," said Chhun Sreypong, 45, clutching her baby and looking across Phnom Penh's river, the Tonle Sap, from which scores of bodies were dragged.

"Most of those who died were youngsters."

Survivors told of being buried beneath piles of bodies, of the living and the dead, for as long as three hours, crying for help and fighting for air, as police doused the crowd with water cannons.

"People were shouting for help and began to push," said Touch Theara, 38, who was among the thousands who flocked to Diamond Island for the festivities.

Her sister and her friend died on the bridge, which some described as a "gate to hell".

Not since the era of the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge three decades ago, during which 1.7 million people were killed in four years, has Cambodia seen such a huge loss of life.

Scores of people leapt to their deaths from the bridge, but most of the victims died trapped under hundreds of stampeding revellers.

Flags were flown at half-mast across the city, whose population of two million people had been swelled by hundreds of thousands of people who flocked from the provinces for the festival.

People sat on the steep banks of the Tonle Sap, a tributary of the Mekong River, as they listened to the chanting of hundreds of Buddhist monks who set down flowers and lit incense to bless the dead.


Anonymous said...

The incidents may be happened more than two places at the same time. Polices and Military Polices as well as soldiers, marines must be ready to cope with at any places, any corners,at any rivers, especially at the big concert at the Koh Pich.

Patrol boats must be every where and ready to take action if being called. Helicopters should be ready, too.

Security forces must be well trained, be well trained and be well trained. But the majority of Polices at any corners from airport to sea port have been talking about to find money for their bosses.

More than two million people came to Phnom Penh for their big days of the year. Security must be ready to cope with all kind of unexpectable incidents. If you look at the video recorded on the bridge, there were no security on the scene yet. There was a mess and chaos at the scene.

It is lesson one. How is about lesson two ?

Anonymous said...

you all useless khmer should all be dead... you wishes you all should never born... LONG LIVE VIET NAM ..

Good work HUN SEN and CPP...KING Sihamoni our dream will come true soon with your good work.. you will be always the PM then the governor of CAMBODIA once we reunite CAMBODIA into Viet Nam province.. you all dies .. you are all uselss ..

Anonymous said...

1:33 PM: I totally support your comments. Boasting oneself of knowing everything is what I hear from Cambodia leaders most of the time but in reality they do not have all the skills and knowledge i.e how to Natural / environment protection. They do not read much what happened in other countries but they read most of money related documents.

Kulen Monorom said...

Your Majesty Samdech Ta former King Norodom Sihanouk,

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen,

Thank you for your both kindness and understanding.
What we need is prevention methods, not to let this type of accident happen again in the future.

It also makes me very worried to see so much alcohol allowed to enter or be produced in our beloved Kingdom of Cambodia? What about “ YA BA “ and other types of DRUGS from Thailand and Vietnam?

Can His Majesty Samdech Ta and Samdech Hun Sen stop all sorts of drugs coming to Cambodia? The accident may not be related to drugs and alcohol but just some thing that I could not sleep peacefully from now on to the future, in the names sake of true Khmer citizen.

Can Samdech Hun Sen kindly ask all 5 million Vietnamese illegal immigrants to peacefully return to Vietnam, so Koh Pich will not be too crowded more and more every day, every month and every year to come.
All Vietnamese illegal immigrants can easily come in and settle inside Cambodia even though they already have their own country Vietnam.

When Cambodia is too crowded, definitely we Khmer people can not go to settle inside Vietnam, can we?
Please Vietnamese, you said you came to rescue us from Pol Pot, and you don’t want to return home, it is not right according to 23rd October 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, can all of you go back to your country now.

Vietnamese illegal immigrants, you see because 5 million of you are inside Cambodia, it makes us too crowded and we wasted our lives at Koh Pich without good reasons.

Your Vietnamese Communism expansionist mind in Cambodia, is to give an excuse to China mainland to occupy your Spratly Islands, Parcel Islands, the whole of your Eastern sea border and perhaps the Northern border sooner or later.

5 million Vietnamese illegal immigrants in Cambodia, please go back home to defend your country from Chinese mighty economic invasion.

May I pray to God and the Lord Jesus Christ that those who have lost loved one will be comforted.

My condolences to all the victim's family.


Kulen Monorom
(The rice farmer's son)