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As festival looms, few plans

Attendees of the kaZantip music festival in 2007 wander around the festival grounds in Ukraine
Attendees of the kaZantip music festival in 2007 wander around the festival grounds in Ukraine. The festival is set to hit the Cambodian island of Koh Puos next month. VASCO PLANET

As festival looms, few plans

Details about safety and security plans for a world-renowned electronic music festival to be held in Cambodia next month were hazy yesterday, with some officials unaware of the 10-day concert and local police unwilling to elaborate on safety measures.

The annual kaZantip festival began attracting electronic music fans in 1992. Until 2013, the epic party was held on the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. But safety concerns surrounding military battles in the area forced it to relocate to Georgia last year. The 2015 festivities have moved to the island of Koh Puos, off the coast of Preah Sihanouk province, scheduled for February 18 to 28.

Provincial police chief Tak Vanntha yesterday said that authorities still have a while until the rave begins, but that police will be on higher alert than usual during the event, expected to attract several thousand people.

“I’ve heard of this type of annual festival that relocates from country to country,” Vanntha said yesterday. “I would always order all of our police to work more strictly than usual to ensure safety and security.”

Vanntha declined to say how many police will be on the island, what resources will be used or if there are any plans for medical emergencies. The festival’s organisers could not be reached.

Koh Puos is just off Preah Sihanouk’s coast, linked by a bridge.

Nou Sophal, director of Preah Sihanouk’s tourism department, said yesterday that he was unaware of the festival’s existence.

“I have no information about this; no one told me about it,” Sophal said.

The island’s distance from hospitals heightens the risk of authorities on the island and event staff not being able to handle medical crises, said John Mueller, managing director of Global Security Solutions.

Mueller suggested that at least 200 police should be on the island during the 10-day party, and boats coming to and from it should emphasise safety to potentially intoxicated revellers.

“The use of alcohol and drugs is definitely a concern at these kinds of concerts; particularly on an island where you may not have [quickly accessible] exits,” Muller said yesterday. “Nobody wants a bad reputation in this country after what happened at the Water Festival four years ago,” Mueller said, referring to a stampede that killed more than 350 people.

The Embassy of the United Kingdom is in regular contact with local police in Preah Sihanouk, embassy Vice Consul Theepan Selvaratnam said yesterday. While they have not yet advised British nationals of the event, Selvaratnam said, their tips will likely be akin to the ones their embassy in Thailand has about full moon parties.

“We’ll approach authorities to find out about their contingency plans and what, if anything, there is [for us] to help [with],” Selvaratnam said. “We want people to enjoy themselves and stay safe.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Koh Puos is 40 kilometres from the mainland.

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