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Bodies recovered after tragedy

The bodies of two missing victims were found in the Mekong yesterday after a riverbank collapse in Kandal province left three people presumed dead and one man hospitalised.

On Tuesday night, three houses perched on an eroding bank in Khsach Kandal’s Preah Prasap commune fell into the river. Another house fell yesterday, but no one was injured.

Eighteen-month-old Chhuy Rasmey was found at about 7am yesterday some 20 metres from where the bank collapsed, said Tim Kim Soeun, 32, a neighbour who lived near the victims.

The boy’s great aunt, 39-year-old Meuk Samol, was also found yesterday. Samol’s three-year-old son is still missing. “Around 12:45pm, the body of Meuk Samol came up from the river. After that, Soa Soth, her husband, carried her body to the funeral ceremony shelter,” said Soeun.

Toun Seyha, 18, remained in hospital yesterday.

All three families were working for a nearby brick-making company.

Yesterday, a concrete house belonging to company owner Leap Hok also fell into the water, but he had already evacuated.

Villagers told the Post yesterday that they were concerned sand pumping in the river could have caused the collapse.

In 2009, Prime Minister Hun Sen cited sand dredging’s negative impacts on riverbeds and marine areas as the impetus behind banning the export of sand abroad.

Last October, the government placed a moratorium on sand dredging in the Mekong and the Tonle Bassac Rivers with the exclusion of a stretch of Kandal province that includes Preah Prasap commune.

In 2010, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology caught sand dredgers operating without a permit in Kandal Khsach district.

District police denied on Tuesday villagers’ assertions that sand pumping occurred in the commune or could have caused the tragedy.

Ministry officials denied repeated requests for comment yesterday.

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