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Authorities attend the scene of a fire that broke out in a Phnom Penh house last week during Khmer New Year. National Police
Authorities attend the scene of a fire that broke out in a Phnom Penh house last week during Khmer New Year. National Police

Dozens die in Khmer New Year crashes

Nearly 50 people lost their lives on Cambodia’s roads over Khmer New Year despite a slight decrease in traffic accidents compared to last year, according to a National Police report released yesterday.

The report revealed an additional 23 people died of causes including murder, suicide, electrocution or drowning, while 67 houses were destroyed by fire, with the lion’s share coming during a Thursday blaze in Phnom Penh that destroyed scores of homes.

The figures, recording data from April 13 to 16, showed 98 road incidents with 47 fatalities and 207 injuries, compared to a year ago, when 36 people died in 101 road crashes.

Ti Long, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s Public Order Department, attributed the higher death toll to a familiar mix of speeding, drunk driving and roads crowded with holiday travellers.

“The use of speed was a key factor; we observed about 40 per cent were driving over the speed limit and often caused accidents,” Long said, pledging increased enforcement of traffic laws.

But Traffic Safety Institute director Ear Chariya said officers were not “putting their best efforts” into policing the roads and added that mobile phone use while driving was a growing and serious road risk, despite there being no law forbidding the practice in Cambodia.

The report also noted a slight dip in crime over the holiday period, with 27 reported cases compared to 30 last year.

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