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Water festival cancelled over drought fears

Water festival cancelled over drought fears

The government has canceled the Water Festival, which was due to be held from November 24 to 26.

The cancellation marks the fourth time in five years the government has pulled the plug on the annual festival, which traditionally draws hundreds of thousands to the capital for its boat races on the Tonle Sap.

Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a government directive on Saturday stating that the cancellation is "due to the low level of the river and the drought our Kingdom of Cambodia is facing, which requires us to gather our forces and all possible means to solve the problem of water shortages for rice fields in the dry season."

The directive states that "the preparation for the Water Festival in the provinces can be held normally, following tradition and based on the ability of the organizing authorities."

Despite the cancellation, officials, civil servants and workers will still receive a three day work holiday.

Hun Sen ordered authorities in all provinces to be on high alert to prepare water for people.

Last year's Water Festival was the first held after three years of cancellations, following a tragedy on the final day of the 2010 festival in which a stampede on Koh Pich killed over 350 people.

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