Families of the victims of Cambodia’s 2010 Water Festival stampede gathered on Wednesday at the scene of the fatal catastrophe that resulted in more than 300 deaths, paying respects and demanding accountability.
The stampede, which injured hundreds of festival-goers, occurred on a bridge to Koh Pich on the final day of the three-day celebration. No official reason has been given for what sparked the panicked crush of bodies, and authorities closed the weeklong investigation, with Prime Minister Hun Sen declaring it an accident.
Families were joined by authorities and 108 monks for a ceremony blessing the dead.
Huy Sam Ol, whose 17-year-old son was killed, asked authorities to take responsibility.
“I heard that there was a stampede and that’s why they ran over each other. I want to know who is going to take the responsibility for this case, because in the past, I heard that it is an accident and no one caused it, but that was it,” he said.
“I really want to know the reason [why it happened], but if they do not tell me, I do not know what to do. I can only organise the ceremony for my dead children,” said Nov Ros, whose two daughters died in the incident.
Municipal official Morb Sarin said the incident was the biggest tragedy in Phnom Penh since the Pol Pot regime.
“Although authorities have put every effort into helping, this is a lesson for all authorities in all sectors to remember and pay more attention forever during all national festivals and gatherings,” Sarin said.