Nov 24, 2010
Nov 24, 2010
Scores of people leapt to their deaths from the pedestrian bridge, unable to swim and dragged under water amid frantic splashing as desperate and panicked people plunged down from above.
While many victims drowned, most perished while trapped under the weight of hundreds of fleeing revellers.
Hours after the tragedy, the scene was untouched. Shoes, flip-flops and ripped clothing piled up a foot high across some parts of the 80m bridge linking Phnom Penh to a gawdy man-made entertainment island packed with restaurants, fairground rides and exhibition centres.
Hundreds of onlookers endured the stench of rotting garbage and tip-toed across the trampled grass to get a glimpse at the place where so many died.
Many people sat in silence on the steep banks of the Tonle Sap, a tributary of the Mekong River, listening to the chanting of hundreds of Buddhist monks who laid flowers and lit incense to bless the dead.
Flags were flown at half mast across the city of about 2 million people, which swelled during the festival as hundreds of thousands flocked in from surrounding provinces for the festival marking the end of the rainy season.
Television repeatedly showed footage of shirtless, shoeless bodies laid out on the ground and on hospital floors, many open-eyed and covered in bruises.
Relatives of the dead wept at the Khmer-Soviet hospital, where more than 100 unclaimed and unidentified bodies, most of them teenagers, lay side-by-side, covered in white sheets.
'I didn't feel safe on the bridge, there were just too many people, so I crossed just in time,' said Bothra Cheahcha, whose friends were among the dead.
'It's tragic and I was so lucky,' he said. 'I feel like I'm reborn, like I have been given a second chance at life.' -- REUTERS
November 24, 2010
November 24, 2010
Martin Petty and Prak Chan Thul
November 24 2010
The three-day Water Festival, the largest annual festival in the Southeast Asian nation, attracted over 3 million Cambodians, many from rural areas, converging to the capital city to enjoy the regatta. And the Diamond Island just completed its construction to entertain the public in its first Water Festival.
"The control of pedestrian flow will be the main preventive measure we take in the future, " said Pung Kheau Se, as he came up at Calmette Hospital Tuesday afternoon to give his condolences to the victims there.
He said the rescue work by the government was quick and timely so that even bigger casualties were prevented. He also showed his gratefulness to the charity groups and volunteers who came to help the hospitals, which were struggling to deal with hundreds of patients.
About 70 patients with minor injuries had been discharged, according to a doctor from Calmette. The trauma of Cambodian people, however, may last much longer than their physical pains.
Chek Chan, a 28-year-old man, took his two nieces and a younger brother to join the celebration Monday night but failed to bring back even one of them alive. And he saw his brother was buried underneath the ever-mounting crush.
"I am very, very sorry to see him killed with my own eyes," he said, tears in eyes.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
By Trevor Simons, an Australian travelling in Cambodia
Nov 23, 2010
Ben Doherty in Phnom Penh
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 November 2010
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 23 November 2010
“My sister's body was blackened on the hands, chest, stomach and feet, like people had stomped on her.”
Phnom Penh Monday, 22 November 2010
Nov 22, 2010
November 22, 2010
By SETH MYDANS
The New York Times
|A mourner weeps amid several covered bodies at Calmette Hospital early this morning following a stampede that killed hundreds on the northen Koh Pich bridge during the water festival. (Photo by: Pha Lina)|
The Phnom Penh Post Staff
Additional videos from Youtube: TV footage Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 18 comments | Links to this post Labels: Koh
Just arrived back home after the missus and I spent some 4 hours stuck on Koh Pich ... we were just about to cross back to the mainland from the island when the stampede started, and police started cordoning the area off ... total chaos' prolly the best way to describe it ...
spent most of my 4 hours trying to help out, inclusing performing CPR on 4 girls that got fished out of the river ... unfortunately only managed to revive 2 of them ... ( ... of the other 2, only 1 had a pulse when they rushed her to hospital, but nevertheless, hope the ambulance crews managed to do more than my meagre first aid skills ...
From talking to the locals, some of the security and event management staff, and first-hand experience, I gather the following chain of events occurred; not sure these events occurred in this order though, but it's close:
- about 30-odd people were electrocuted (few direct deaths, but many losing consciousness, suffering severe burns) from contact with the metal guard rails on either side of the bridge ...
- about a dozen people fainted from the crush of the crowd, heat exhaustion, dehydration, or a combination of these, and fell underfoot ...
- Crowd panicked from the electrocutions and surged into a stampede; More people tripped or got pushed over, and got trampled underfoot ...
- People started jumping off the bridge into the river below to escape the mob; some were electrocuted climbing over the railings; some died from jumping into shallow water, or missing the water altogether, and landing on the concrete escarpments. One of the girls I performed CPR on had a nasty gash stretching from her collarbone down to just past her belly button ... not bleeding too badly, but was still a pain to patch up half-decently ...
- Curious onlookers surged towards the bridge from both ends trying to find out what was going on. POLICE WERE VERY FORCEFULLY PUSHING BYSTANDERS BACK, USING FISTS, BATONS, PISTOLS, AND PIECES OF METAL PIPING!!! ==>> AND IN PARTICULAR, SHAME SHAME SHAME ON THE BIG BLACK GUY WITH THE AMERICAN ACCENT THAT PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED MY WIFE AND I, NOT ONCE BUT TWICE: WHEN I TRACK DOWN YOUR DETAILS, I'LL BE USING ALL MY POLICE AND LEGAL CONTACTS TO PRESS CHARGES!! <<== Wish more foreigners could've put their energies into helping the wounded, as opposed to bashing up on the innocent bystanders ...
- Some police near the Koh Pich end of the bridge fired warning shops to try to disperse the crowd, but it only served to set off a 2nd panic, since no-one at that stage knew who was shooting, nor at who or what ...
- The crowd was warned to stay away from the metal guard rails along the easter edge of Koh Pich, for fear of electrocution. Around the same time, all the neon lights on the bridge were turned off, along with most of the street lamps along the eastern shore of the island.
As of 3am on Tuesday morning, the official death toll sits at 332 deaths, and 329 injured ...
a moment of silence please ...
ironically, the bayon TV concert a couple of hundred metres away blasted on throughout all of this ... ... ...
Cambodian minister: 339 dead in stampede
[Updated at 4:25 p.m.] Steve Finch, a Phnom Penh Post reporter, told CNN that the stampede at the water festival in Phnom Penh began around 10 p.m. Monday (10 a.m. ET), when police began firing a water cannon onto a bridge to an island in the center of a river.
The bridge was packed with people, and police fired the water cannon in an effort to get them to move, he said.
"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 died by electric shock, he said.
Watch: "It was chaos," reporter says
Finch cited witnesses as saying that the bridge was festooned with electric lights, which may have played a role in the deaths.
The government denied anyone died by electric shock.
But a doctor who declined to be identified publicly said the main cause of death was suffocation and electric shock. Police were among the dead, he said.
While Finch said the incident apparently coincided with the firing of the water cannon, a witness, Ouk Sokhhoeun, 21, told the Phnom Penh Post that the stampede began first.
In addition to the 339 people who have been confirmed dead, 329 people were injured, Prime Minister Hun Sen said, according to The Phnom Penh Post.
The incident happened on the final day of the three-day festival, according to The Phnom Peng Post. The festival, which attracts people from all over Cambodia, is held annually to commemorate a victory by the Cambodian naval forces during the 12th century reign of King Jayavarman VII, according to the Tourism Cambodia website.
[Updated at 3:37 p.m.] Steve Finch, a Phnom Penh Post reporter, told CNN there were reports from witnesses of people electrocuted as police fired water cannons at people on the bridge to hurry them along causing the stampede.
According to a Radio Australia report, a big crowd watching the annual water festival panicked when a number of people were apparently electrocuted on the bridge.
Cambodian authorities say hundreds of people were either crushed in the resulting stampede or drowned when they fell or jumped into the river.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has given several post-midnight live broadcasts to update the country. In one, according to the Associated Press, he called the stampede the "biggest tragedy" in Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge reign of terror in the 1970s.
He also ordered all government ministries to fly the flag at half-staff and said there would be a national day of morning.
[Updated at 3:05 p.m.] Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on state-run TV he was unsure yet as to what caused the stampede.
"This needs to be investigated more," Hun Sen said, according to an AFP report.
Hun Sen said a committee would be set up to examine the incident.
The Associated Press, Reuters and AFP reported that witnesses said 10 people had either collapsed or become unconscious during the festival, triggering the panic.
That led, they reported, to people rushing towards a bridge headed toward Diamond Island. That's when things got worse, a witness told AFP.
"We were crossing the bridge to Diamond Island when people started pushing from the other side. There was lots of screaming and panic," 23-year-old Kruon Hay told AFP. "People started running and were falling over each other. I fell too. I only survived because other people pulled me up. Many people jumped in the water."
Sok Sambath, governor of the capital's Daun Penh district, told AFP "this is the biggest tragedy we have ever seen."
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[Updated at 2:41 p.m.] Khieu Kanharith, the Cambodian Minister of Information, has said the death toll from the stampede has now reached 339.
The three-day festival attracts people from all over Cambodia - and around the world - to the Royal palace. The festival is held annually to commemorate a victory by the Cambodian naval forces during the 12th century reign of King Jayvarman VII, according to the Tourism Cambodia website.
The festival is also used to pray for a good rice harvest, sufficient rain and to celebrate the full moon, the site says. The festival dates back to before the 7th century.
At night, the boats on the river are illuminated with neon lights and there is a fireworks display.
A stampede occurred during a water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
[Updated at 2:36 p.m.] Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday on state-run Bayon Television that more than 200 people have died in the water festival stampede.
Officers with the Prime Ministers Bodyguard Unit stood outside a local hospital trying to help those who brought injured and control the scene of chaos outside.
Hundreds of shoes, clothing and personal items still littered the streets, the bridge and the underlying water near where the festival took place. The road on the bridge was so covered you could barely see the surface.
[Updated at 2:26 p.m.] Ambulances appeared to be making runs back and forth between the scene of the stampede and the hospital - dropping off the injured and then speeding away again, video on state-run Bayon Television showed.
Doctors stood outside a hospital, trying to direct traffic, between ambulances and vehicles of regular citizens bringing in the injured.
Friends and family clutched some the injured already in the hospital while others raced from the streets clutching the injured in the arms.
[Updated at 2:23 p.m.] Video from state-run Bayon Television in Cambodia showed panic in the streets and outside local hospitals.
Dozens of injured people appeared to be laying on what appeared to be the waiting room floor of a hospital with IV lines hooked up to them that were strung across benches.
[Updated at 2:04 p.m.] Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday on state-run Bayon Television that 180 people have died in the water festival stampede.
"With this miserable event, I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims," he said, according to AFP.
More than 4 million people were attending the Water Festival when the stampede occurred, said Visalsok Nou, a Cambodian Embassy official in Washington.
[Posted at 1:55 p.m.] More than 100 people were killed Monday in a stampede that occurred during a festival near Cambodia's royal palace in Phnom Penh, a Cambodian Embassy official in Washington said.
This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.