Cambodian stampede death toll rises to 351

The number of people killed in a bridge stampede now stands at 351.

Phnom Penh: The number of people killed in a bridge stampede during the Cambodian capital`s annual water festival now stands at 351, the social affairs minister said on Sunday.

The figure, which included 222 females, is four higher than previously announced, while the number of injured stood at 395, said a statement signed by Ith Samheng, who sits on a committee investigating the disaster.

It said each of the wounded would receive free treatment and assistance from the Cambodian Red Cross as well as 1,000,000 riels (USD 244) from the government.

Cambodia`s most popular festival ended in tragedy on Monday after crowds panicked on an overcrowded bridge leading to an island that was one of the main event sites.

Authorities have said a full report on the incident would be released in the coming week.

Initial findings from the investigating committee suggest the stampede occurred after rumours rippled through the crowd that the suspension bridge to Phnom Penh`s Diamond Island was about to collapse.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has described the disaster as Cambodia`s worst tragedy since the Khmer Rouge`s 1975-1979 reign of terror, which killed up to a quarter of the population.
The city will continue to host the yearly festival despite the deaths, according to Chea Kean, deputy secretary general of a government festival committee, who said on Saturday it was an "age-old tradition" in the country.
The three-day event, which marks the reversal of the flow between the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, usually draws millions of visitors to the capital to enjoy dragon boat races, fireworks and concerts.

Bureau Report