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Death toll from bus crash rises

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The death toll from Tuesday’s tour bus crash in Koh Kong climbed by one yesterday when an Austrian man died at the provincial hospital, while the man behind the wheel was detained by authorities.

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Koh Kong Provincial Hospital director Mat Ly Hsai Song said the 72-year-old Austrian man who had been traveling on the bus from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong was due to be evacuated to Thailand for medical treatment yesterday.

“Before getting in the car to go to Thailand, the Austrian man, who had high-blood pressure, walked into the bathroom, where he fell down dead,” Mat Ly Hsai Song said. “He died instantly from a blood clot and was unable to be saved.”

The Austrian is the second fatality after a 23-year-old Russian woman was killed on Tuesday when the Paramount Angkor Express bus sustained a punctured tyre and rolled over, injuring all 46 passengers – most of them foreign tourists. 

Another Austrian man and an American man were evacuated to Thailand for medical care yesterday, Koh Kong Provincial Hospital deputy director Suon Samit said, adding the men were seriously wounded, with broken bones, head injuries and shortness of breath.

A Finnish woman who sustained a serious back injury and a 5-year-old Cambodian girl who had her arm amputated at the shoulder directly after the crash were evacuated to Thailand on Tuesday, Suon Samit said.

The Finnish Embassy in Bangkok told the Post that seven Finnish nationals had been involved in the crash.

All were being treated in Bangkok, but only one was seriously injured.

A Swedish woman was transported from Koh Kong by ambulance yesterday afternoon to Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh, hospital staff said yesterday.

She was undergoing operations last night and would be in hospital for seven to 10 days, staff said.

Seven foreigners and five Cambodians who were in stable condition remained at Koh Kong Provincial Hospital yesterday, Suon Samit said, adding that those who had been discharged from hospital had been sent to stay at the Ear Aun guesthouse in Koh Kong district near the hospital.

Provincial governor Bun Loert paid for the accommodation and food expenses for those crash victims who had sought refuge in the guesthouse.

Bun Loert said yesterday that all the crash victims with the exception of one Japanese man had already left the guesthouse.

“We will check to find out the reason for this traffic accident, strengthen the traffic law and the vehicles, and look after the victims until they are better,” he said by telephone yesterday.

The driver of the bus had initially fled the scene of the accident and escaped into a nearby forest, however Koh Kong authorities said yesterday that Phnom Penh police had apprehended him at the central office of Paramount Angkor Express.

The driver will be detained while police complete their investigation of the accident, Koh Kong traffic office chief Uk Sopha said.

“We anticipate handing our investigation over to the court next week because such a big crash takes a long time to investigate,” Uk Sopha said.

“According to the traffic law, if the court finds the driver guilty of provoking the accident, he can be sentenced for between one and two years and the company will have to take some responsibility, too.”

Representatives from Paramount Angkor Express could not be reached yesterday.

Paramount’s insurer, Caminco Insurance Company, said their investigators had visited the hospital and the scene of the crash yesterday.

“The company has third-party liability and passenger liability insurance,” Dy Len, a planning officer at Caminco told the Post.

“This is the biggest case we have ever had,” he said, adding that other concerned parties such as embassies and ministries were also conducting their own investigations.

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