Official reports’ synthesis over the Water Festival 2010’s Tragedy

A young man reads about the Water Festival's Tragedy in Koh Santepgeap Daily on Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours of the tragic events.

The following is a synthesis of official versions about the tragedy in Koh Pich (Diamond Island) during the last night of the Water Festival 2010 in Phnom Penh. It was elaborated by the social communication section of Don Bosco Sihanoukville. It can give a more systematic view of the tragedy and it will be updated along the days to come.

Date: Monday, November 22, 2010, the last night of the Water Festival 2010.

Place: The pedestrian bridge of Koh Pich (Diamond Island) in the central district of Daur Penh. There is another southern bridge to the island only for vehicles. Diamond Island was an old slum that was bought for urban development and it will be the place of the tallest Asian skyscraper.
Water Festival 2010: It is estimated that about two million persons participated this year in the Water Festival in a city that has already about the same number of inhabitants.
Hour: Most witnesses combined that the tragedy started in a time between 9:30 PM and 9:45 PM (21:30 & 21:45).
Rescue: Military police, guards of the government, soldiers and ambulances put all their potential to answer the emergency. It is reported that after midnight the Australian bombers that serve in the country, joined the efforts to bring fatalities and injured people to hospitals.
Bodies were stacked on the floor at the Calmette Hospital.
During the rest of the night the rescuers searched along the river for more casualties.

The pedestrian Koh Pich bridge as Tuesday morning, after the tragedy.

Causes: A special commission was appointed by Primer Minister Hun Sen to investigate the causes of the tragedy.

The footage of a television camera that recorded the tragic moments at the bridge is one of the main evidence for investigation. The camera was there to record the concert.
In the morning of Wednesday, November 24, investigators did not reach a clear answer over what caused the panic in the crowd over the bridge.
It remains the idea that there was an overcrowd on the bridge and that dead was caused for suffocation.
It is reported that some persons fall in the river.
It is said that some persons died by electric shocks, but it is not officially confirmed. It is not clear also to which electrical devices could shocked people, if the ones of the bridge or the ones used to light the concert.
It is a mystery what caused the panic in the crowd.
Witnesses say that they were walking, when suddenly, people started to run.
A foreign organizer of the concert that asked not to be named, says that in the beginning there was not coordination among the rescuers because the chaos and that even there was a person shouting through a megaphone that there was a fire on the bridge. The electrical shocks ?
It is probably that people thought that the bridge was going to collapse and they tried to leave it quickly.
The commission for the investigation concluded that it is more probably that the bridge began to tremble and people thought it was going to fall, causing the panic. No electric shocks.
November 23, Tuesday, 1AM: Primer Minister Hun Sen announced through Bayon Television that there were 180 casualties in the incident.
After midnight: Calmette Hospital began to remit ambulances to the Russian Hospital in the Chamkar Mon District.
Interior Minister, Sor Kheng, visited the bridge of the tragedy for some minutes.
Health Miniser Mam Bunheng said to the media that the Hospital reported 100 bodies in the place and about 60 were in the area of the tragedy.
Phnom Penh Police reported at the same time that the bodies of 51 women and 16 men were in the hospital. The numbers were going to increase in the following hours.
Tuesday Morning: Hundreds of persons were looking in the hospitals for their loved ones.

Calmette Hospital put a big board outside with photographs of the dead and wounded to facilitate the recognize.

Some persons said to the press that their loved ones were still missing.

Funeral cars began to evacuate the hospital with dead victims.

Primer Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will compensate every deceased with 1,500 dollars for funeral services and every wounded with 250 dollars.
As many victims came from rural areas, it is predicted a big pilgrimage of people coming from the provinces to look for their dear ones in the coming days to the capital.
Wednesday, November 24: Prime Minister Hun Sen declared November 25 as a National Mourning Day in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Number of Victims:
As November 23 evening: 349 casualties and 700 wounded (Koh Santepheap Daily)
As November 24: 380 casualties and 755 wounded (BBC)
There are not foreigners among the victims so far.
As November 24 at 21:54: 456 casualties (EFE)

The Cambodia Daily: 450 (Nov. 25).

The Cambodia Daily: 347 (Nov. 26) according with a communicate of the Ministry of Social Affairs that says that the toll was inflated the day before due to a report of disappeared persons.


Tags: , , , ,

About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: