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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tourist deaths up 50 per cent over past year

Tourist deaths up 50 per cent over past year

Cambodia saw a dramatic increase in the number of tourist deaths in the past year, an annual report released by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has revealed.

Twenty-one foreign visitors died in 2013, up from 14 deaths the year prior to that, a 50 per cent jump, the report released on Tuesday states.

While the report does not indicate the cause of death for each victim, Nhean Vibol, director of the Tourism Police Department for the National Police, said that the deaths fell under a wide variety of headings.

“Most of them died of drug overdoses, heart attacks, traffic accidents, drownings and criminal activities,” Vibol said, adding that officials were becoming increasingly concerned about the rise.

The report also highlights an increase in the number of reported accidents involving tourists, jumping from 570 in 2012 to 705 last year.

Authorities plan to increase the police presence in popular tourist destinations to combat a further increase in foreign fatalities, Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the MoI, said during the report's launch on Tuesday.

“Strengthening the activity of tourism police, especially in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, by increasing [the presence] of foreign tourism police so they can look after and control foreigners” was one potential remedy, he said.

Last year, the Post reported a number of tourist deaths, ranging from tragic accidents to presumed murders.

Japanese tourist Saki Rakita, 21, died in Siem Reap in January due to injuries sustained at an amusement park when a roller coaster she was riding malfunctioned.

In February, the naked and beaten body of French tourist Ophelie Begnis, 25, was discovered floating in an estuary in Kampot after she was last seen leaving her guesthouse on a bike.

The body of Katherine Ann Grgich, a 55-year-old American who disappeared on September 28, was found two days later just three kilometres away from a guesthouse she was staying in on Koh Rong, off Sihanoukville.

Math Sout, Preah Sihanouk deputy police chief, said yesterday that the police officers operating in the province are constantly keeping tourist safety in mind.

“We have created six security teams to patrol tourist areas 24 hours a day, especially at the beach,” Sout said yesterday.

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