Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Police speak to rowers after their boat was hit by a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river near the Royal Palace this morning, leaving two missing and presumed dead.
Police speak to rowers after their boat was hit by a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river near the Royal Palace this morning, leaving two missing and presumed dead. Hong Menea

Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Two rowers from a boat racing team in town for the Water Festival are missing, presumed dead, after their vessel collided with a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river this morning.

The men – identified as Chhoen Chorn, 36, and Sok Chan Chesda, 18 – were among nine members of a team from Phnom Penh’s Prek Thmei commune preparing to practice ahead of a race this evening when their craft was clipped by the 223-foot Cruiseco Adventurer, a river cruise ship that runs between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Ouch Soy, 56, a crewman sitting next to the two victims at the time, said their vessel was caught in the path of the faster cruise ship and struck on the left-hand side approximately four metres from the stern at about 7:15 am.

“The ship blew their horn but our boat was slow and could not move away,” Soy said.

“All of the people jumped out of the boat, which was broken in the crash. When the ship hit us, I jumped out of the boat, while Chorn and Chesda did not jump. They just sat, ducked their heads and disappeared into the water.”

“After [the crew from the Adventurer] threw the life-saving devices, they drove away without pulling us from the water.”

Soy said the company and crew had begun discussions about a settlement, though the amount of compensation would be determined after the pair’s bodies are found.

An email to the Australia-based Cruiseco Line, which also operates tours in Myanmar, has yet to be answered.

Crewman Yang Vanda, 25, said he did not think his teammates would be found alive.

“They’ve been missing for hours in the water,” said Vanda, who praised authorities for helping to pull the survivors from the water after the boat capsized.

Prek Thmei commune chief Ly Vantheng, who is head of the team, said a team of Cham fishermen had been employed to dive and try and find the victims.

He added the team was unlikely to race after the tragedy.

“I don’t know how it could be enjoyable since two people are missing,” Ventheng said.

“We feel much regret over the incident… we came to here to celebrate the national festival… the company also didn’t want this to happen and have expressed their regret.”

Chhin Ketana, secretary general for the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, said the races this evening were organised by City Hall and were not part of the official Water Festival, which begins on Sunday.

Reached earlier today, City Hall spokesman Meas Chanyada declined to comment, saying he was busy.

Today’s crash is not the first tragedy to befall the Water Festival, which has been cancelled several times in recent years for reasons including floods, low water levels and political tensions.

In 2010, more than 300 people died and hundreds more were injured after a stampede erupted during celebrations on Koh Pich.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all