Officials and mourners gathered yesterday to mark the five-year anniversary of the 2010 Koh Pich stampede, which saw hundreds killed as revellers participated in the annual Water Festival.
Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong told those assembled yesterday that the anniversary “is the day when our citizens cannot forget the event, so we all have to gather together here in order to pray to [victims’] spirits to rest in peace”.
Socheatvong also said that Prime Minister Hun Sen had told authorities to learn from the 2010 tragedy and not to allow a repeat of the event, which saw some 353 people killed when a crowd on a bridge connecting Koh Pich (Diamond Island) and the west bank of the Tonle Bassac river panicked.
The government has caught flack for its handling of the disaster. No public official was ever held responsible for the lapses that allowed the stampede to take place, and Hun Sen at the time characterised the incident as an unexpected “mistake”.
Chav Sim, one of about 200 participants at yesterday’s event, held a photo of her 15-year-old grandson, who was killed in 2010, as monks prayed for the victims.
“I cannot forget the accident that caused my grandson to die too young,” she said. “I cannot stop my tears from falling when I come here because I miss him so much. He lived with me since he was born until he died.”