Cambodian authorities have reported that at least 10 students in southern Cambodia who were crossing a river died after the boat they were on capsized.
The accident occurred near the Neak Loeung bridge over the Mekong, which at that point separates Kandal province on the western shore from Prey Veng on the east. The bridge is part of Route 1, a major road connecting the capital, Phnom Penh, to Ho Chi Minh City in neighboring Vietnam.
The police chief in Kandal’s Leuk Daek district, Am Thou, Cambodia, said the accident occurred as the boat was approaching the shore. It took on water in the bow, and the students were instructed to move to seats in the middle or stern of the boat.
The students, who were between 12 and 14 years old, were returning from an English class Thursday. They lived on an island in the river and used the ferry for transport almost every day in the rainy season, as did others from their village.
In the dry season, there is always little to no water in the river, so the students would not need a ferry or a canoe for transportation.
One of the survivors, 12-year-old Ry Chanbora, was shown in a video broadcast online by Swift News telling relatives that she normally doesn’t know how to swim well despite living near the river.
She said that when the boat was going down she jumped out, trying to swim with her face up, and swerved to the river’s bank.
Prime Minister Hun Sen gave condolences on the Telegram messaging platform and ordered rescuers to find all the missing.
He spoke on the recent extreme weather in Cambodia:
“May I urge all the people, especially the people who live along the river, to pay the highest care during this flooding period?”
The World Health Organisation said last year that according to assessments in 2019, more than 144,000 drowning deaths occurred in the Asia Pacific region, 61% of the global total.
The UN Agency said:
“Of the 70,000 drowning deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region in 2019, more than 33% were among children aged under 15 years.”
“On average, men were three to four times more likely to drown than women.”