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Death, injuries as man drives car into pagoda

A man was killed and more than 20 people injured when a car ploughed into a crowd at a Buddhist celebration in a pagoda near Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town on Tuesday night, police said yesterday.

About 100 villagers had gathered for the annual Kathen festival and were dancing to celebrate it when a Land Cruiser crashed into them  about 10.30pm, provincial police chief Brigadier General Prach Rim said.

Three of the 23 people injured were seriously hurt when the vehicle struck them at the pagoda in Chantrea district’s Prey Angkunh commune, Prach Rim said.

“They were dancing when the vehicle crashed into them,” he said, adding that those who were injured were treated at the district health centre.

The Kathen festival marks the end of Vassa – a three-month retreat for monks – and the beginning of a one-month merit-making period in which lay people offer them gifts.

The vehicle’s driver, 53-year-old Sor Saroeun, was detained by attendees at the celebration. Police then took him to their provincial headquarters and will request that the provincial court charge him with dangerous driving causing death and injury, Prach Rim said.  

He added that Sor Saroeun told police he had wanted to join the celebration, but as he drove towards the crowd, he mistakenly stepped on the accelerator instead of hitting the brakes.

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