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Stampede memorial plans

Ground was broken yesterday for the creation of a memorial stupa on Koh Pich, set to lie just a few metres away from the bridge where the 353 people lost their lives in the water festival stampede last year.

The ceremony was attended by local government officials, including Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema who chaired the event, but family members of the victims of the stampede seemed absent from proceedings.

A stampede survivor, whose sister-in-law died at Koh Pich, 28-year-old Srey Loeung, said yesterday that she had no knowledge of the ceremony and her family had not been invited. However, had she been invited she would not have attended.

“I have very bad visions of the tragedy whenever I pass the bridge, so I do not want to see it again,” she said.

Another survivor, who wished to remain anonymous, said she would not return to the site of the stampede that claimed the life of her cousin.

“I won’t go to that place again.” she said. “It seems like it just happened yesterday. I still have bad memories from that bridge.”

Kep Chuktema said the stupa would cost about US$12,000, with funding provided by CTN (Cambodian Television Network), Bayon Radio and Television Station and OCIC, the company that built the Koh Pich bridge. He added the stupa would be completed before the first anniversary of the stampede on November 22.  

“Although the event was a tragedy, the organisers of the festival will remember this event and use the experience for better planning,” he said.

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