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Flood crash survivor’s origins still a mystery

Bodies of victims in a Prey Veng province car crash wait to be processed
Bodies of victims in a Prey Veng province car crash wait to be processed. The language of the only known survivor is still a mystery. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Flood crash survivor’s origins still a mystery

Two more bodies have been found in connection with a flood-induced car crash in Prey Veng province that left at least six people dead and a young girl missing.

Police said yesterday they still cannot determine the language spoken by the sole survivor, a 24-year-old Muslim man they believe is named Rozan and assume to be Syrian based on where he pointed on a world map. Through communication limited to drawings and body language, the police believe the Toyota Camry involved in the accident was carrying seven foreign passengers and one Cambodian driver.

The bodies of two females, aged 17 and 24, and two boys between the ages of two and five, were discovered on Monday morning at about 3am on a flooded road in Ba Phnom district’s Theay commune.

A 42-year-old foreigner who police assume to be a Syrian national was found floating dead at 6am yesterday, while the body of a Cambodian man was found later in the afternoon.

“We know through the drawing of people sitting in the car that there were seven foreigners and a Khmer driver. Now there is still one girl missing, around five years old.… We are still searching,” Sreng Kea, deputy police chief of Prey Veng, said.

Police believe the foreigners in the car to be related, as the sole survivor began crying upon identifying the bodies of the two young boys on Monday.

The Ministry of Interior is still working to find a translator able to speak with the survivor, who cannot understand Khmer, French, English, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Armenian or Kurdish, according to NGOs working with police.

The bodies of the females and children were buried on Monday, and the 42-year-old man was cremated yesterday.

The International Organization for Migration will travel to Prey Veng tomorrow to help to identify the man’s nationality and language while police continue searching for the missing girl.

Syria’s embassies in Beijing and Malaysia and its consulate in Bangkok did not respond to requests for comment.

“This case is difficult for us, as we cannot communicate. Right now, we are working to identify the [victims’] names and nationalities,” said Kirth Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON

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