May 24, 2019

Cambodia declares day of mourning as hundreds die in stampede

The Cambodian Water Festival boat race. Hard to imagine that something so picturesque could end in tragedy for some of the spectators.

Cambodia has declared Thursday a national day of mourning following the death of over 300 people in a stampede in the capital Phnom Penh.

Around 400 more were injured when onlookers stampeded in a footbridge linking a small island on the final day of the Water Festival.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered an investigation into the cause of the disaster, and described the stampede as the “biggest tragedy” to hit Cambodia since the mass killings carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

He ordered all government ministries to fly the national flag at half-mast and indicated that “Most of the deaths were as a result of suffocation and internal injuries.”

Authorities had estimated that more than two million people would attend the three-day festival, one of the main events of the year in Cambodia.

Panic broke out after a concert on Diamond Island, which followed a boat race on the Tonle Sap river regarded as a highlight of the festivities.

There have been reports that the bridge was extrememly overcrowded with people pushing at both ends. Many of the dead were teenage girls.

This is a sad event in a country that has seen more than enough tragedy in recent decades. Newswarped hopes that the inquiry uncovers the causes and that the government has the courage to enforce it’s recommendations.

Cambodians are a peaceful happy people by nature and they deserve a peaceful and happy life after years of suffering.