This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations saw substantially more fires and road deaths than the previous year, according to data from the Ministry of Interior and the Phnom Penh municipality yesterday.
Between February 7 and February 9, 14 fires destroyed 120 houses around the country – 97 of which burned in a single massive blaze in Tuol Roka village south of the capital on Sunday. Municipal fire chief Prum Yorn had blamed candles and incense lit to mark the holiday for the conflagration.
Neth Vantha, Phnom Penh municipal deputy police chief, blamed the other fires on incense, electrical faults and children playing with fire. During last year’s celebrations, 13 fires destroyed just seven houses nationwide, Vantha said.
According to Ty Long, deputy director of the public order department at the Ministry of Interior, traffic accidents killed 41 people between February 7 and February 10, an increase from the 29 fatalities recorded in the same period last year.
There were 91 serious injuries compared to 81 serious injuries last year, though slight injuries declined to 43 from 64.
Long said that speeding caused almost a third of the accidents, and drunk driving almost a quarter.
Ear Chariya, president of the Road Safety Institute, said that the number of cops on the streets falls off during the holiday, just when they are needed most.
“[There are] not enough officers to do the work,” he said.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov