TWO monks and a student living at a pagoda in Kampong Cham province’s Kroch Chhmar district drowned on Wednesday when their boat capsized in the Mekong River, officials said.
Lay Nguon, the district police chief, said there were 11 passengers on board when the boat sunk en route to a Buddhist ceremony on the other side of the river. The maximum capacity of the boat was five passengers, he added.
“My officials and the people tried to save their lives immediately, but we regret very much that there were two monks and a pagoda boy who died. If we did not rush to help, all of them would have died,” he said, adding that the bodies of the two monks had not been found as of Thursday afternoon.
He said he had ordered local officials to advise residents of the district to refrain from travelling on the river in overloaded boats, but that he doubted the warning would be completely effective.
“I ordered my officials to tell the travellers to be careful when they travel along the river, but some people do not listen to our worrying,” he said.
Kroch Chhmar district governor E Sa Hak said Thursday that similar warnings had been issued in the past.
“I have told all people to be careful while they ride in boats, especially in May, June and July when there are strong winds. But they are careless,” he said.
Cambodia has seen a spate of such incidents in recent months. In Kratie province in October, a ferry crammed with 30 people and several motorbikes capsized on the Mekong, resulting in 17 deaths. In February, another overloaded boat sank off the coast of Koh Kong province, killing seven. In that incident, 12 people were sitting in a boat built to carry just six individuals. And earlier this month, two women died when an overloaded boat sank on the Mekong in Prey Veng province.