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Four children dead in three drowning cases

A total of four children have drowned in three separate incidents in Svey Rieng, Kampong Chhnang and Phnom Penh since Monday, police said yesterday, taking reported drownings to at least nine since December 31.

Prak Knith, 7, and his sister, Prak Sina, 4, drowned in a pond behind their house in Svay Rieng’s Svay Chrum district, deputy district police chief Mao Sokorn said.

“The kids’ parents had gone to work at a factory in Bavet town and left them at home with their grandmother,” he said.

The children’s grandmother had been visited by bank staff at about 4pm to discuss a loan and she had left the siblings unattended, Sokhorn added.

“When she noticed they were not around, she called on neighbours to help find them. Sadly, they found them floating in the pond.”

In a similar case, Chhrem Ra, a commune police chief in the capital’s Dangkor district, said Ly Leang Heng, 2, drowned in a fishpond under the stairs of his family home on Tuesday.

“The boy slipped,” he said, adding that the pond had contained only a small amount of water. “His grandmother did not know he had died until the boy’s uncle found him.”

The boy’s parents were also at work at the time.

In Kampong Chhnang’s Boribo district on Monday, a 4-year-old girl, Seang Kanha, drowned after falling off a boat.

“The parents put her in the middle of the boat with a pile of firewood, but she somehow fell into the river,” a police statement said. “She could not swim and her parents were unable to save her.”

The tragedies came after five adults and children drowned in Takeo and Pursat provinces on December 31.

According to the World Health Organization, Cambodian children aged up to 15 were twice as likely to drown as those in other low- to middle-income countries in the region, including Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines.

The vast majority of drowning deaths occur in countries where people have “close daily contact with water for work, transport and agriculture”, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Report on Drowning released in November.

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