Monday, November 29, 2010

Hundreds die in tragic end to water festival

I haven't had a chance to post on this, even though it happened one week ago today. It is most definitely a tragedy that could have been avoided. The loss is incredible and heart-wrenching. This is one reason why I have steered clear of Phnom Penh during its annual water festival. One's safety just simply cannot be guaranteed.

Here are several links to articles printed in the Phnom Penh Post about this incident.

Stampede in Cambodia kills hundreds, government says
By the CNN Wire Staff
November 22, 2010

A stampede that occurred during a festival in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh has killed 339 people, officials said Monday.

Another 329 people were injured in the crush, said Philip Bader, a news editor with the Phnom Penh Post, citing information given by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a televised address.

Visalsok Nou, a Cambodian Embassy official in Washington, said more than 4 million people were attending the Water Festival when the stampede occurred.

But other reports put the number at 2 million., said Steve Finch, a journalist with the Phnom Penh Post.

The municipal police chief said that the stampede, which began around 10 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), likely occurred because a suspension bridge packed with people began to sway, creating panic, said Bader, who cited reports of people jumping from the bridge into the river below.

Finch said police began firing water cannon onto a bridge to an island in the center of a river in an effort to get them to continue moving across the bridge.

"That just caused complete and utter panic," he told CNN in a telephone interview. He said a number of people lost consciousness and fell into the water; some may have been electrocuted, he said. Finch cited witnesses as saying that the bridge was festooned with electric lights, which may have played a role in the electrocutions.

The government denied anyone was electrocuted.

Video link to report on stampede.

Hundreds die in tragic end to water festival
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Post Staff

Hundreds died and hundreds more were injured last night in a stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge, bringing a tragic close to the final day of water festival celebrations in Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced via video conference at 2:30am that 339 people had been confirmed dead and 329 injured.

“With this miserable event, I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims,” he said. “This needs to be investigated more.”

This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime,” he said, adding that Cambodia would hold a national day of mourning on Thursday and that a committee would be set up to investigate the incident.

The cause of the stampede has not yet been confirmed, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said it happened because “one million people”, many of whom were leaving the island, became “scared of something.”

Phnom Penh struggles to cope with tragic stampede
Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cambodian officials today were struggling to cope with the aftermath of last night’s tragic stampede on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh that left more than 300 people dead and several hundreds more injured.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced early this morning via video conference that 339 were confirmed dead.

Nhim Vanda, deputy director of the Department of Disaster Management put the figure today at 349, while unconfirmed reports from police officials said 375 had been killed.

Death toll surges in island disaster
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
By Cheang Sokha

The death toll from Monday’s tragic bridge stampede has leapt to 456, according to official figures released yesterday, eclipsing earlier estimates that put the number of dead at around 350.

In a statement announcing the figures, Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Social Affairs and the chairman of the government’s committee investigating the cause of the incident, stated that the toll spiked after 17 provinces reported their casualty numbers to the authorities.

“After each province reported to the subcommittee, the total number is 456 now,” said Ith Samheng.

“Some bodies were transported home straight away and some injured people died at home,” he said, explaining the increased toll. “This is a shocking incident for Cambodia.”

Hundreds of people were crushed and suffocated to death on Monday night when crowds attending the annual Water Festival became trapped on a narrow suspension bridge, in one of the country’s worst peacetime losses of life.

Cambodians turn out to honor the dead
By CNN Wire Staff
November 25, 2010

Hundreds of somber-faced Cambodians assembled Thursday morning in front of the suspension bridge in the capital where hundreds of people died Monday in a stampede during a festival.

Some carried flowers, others lit candles and incense in honor of the dead in the ceremony early Thursday, which the government has declared a day of mourning.

PM overcome by grief
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Cheang Sokha

CAMBODIANS across the country observed a day of mourning yesterday for the victims of Monday’s Diamond Island stampede, as questions remained about the ultimate cause of and responsibility for the disaster.

Government officials said Wednesday that the death toll had reached 456, though that number was revised downward yesterday to 347. Senior Minister Om Yentieng, the deputy chairman of the government commission investigating the incident, said yesterday that the death toll provided a day earlier by the investigatory sub-commission had double-counted victims who were brought to local hospitals before being returned to their home provinces.

Government officials gathered yesterday morning at the site of the tragedy, where Prime Minister Hun Sen shed tears as he knelt to pay respect to the souls of the deceased.

Tragedy a ‘joint mistake’
Monday, 29 November 2010
Cheang Sokha

Government authorities have announced the conclusion of their investigation into the causes of last week’s lethal stampede on Diamond Island, saying no officials will be held to account for an incident that was described as a “joint mistake”.

Announcing the results of the inquiry, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An backed up preliminary findings that the incident was triggered by mass panic related to the swaying of the bridge leading to the island.

“There is no sign of terrorism or that criminals arranged this in advance. We can say that it was caused by a stampede,” said Sok An, who headed the committee investigating the Diamond Island tragedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment