In the first six months of this year, eight children drowned in Kampong Thom province’s Prasat Sambor district, mostly due to “parents or guardians’ negligence”.

May Vun, chief of administration at the district hall in charge of disaster management, told The Post on June 27 that the eight – four boys and four girls – were aged 4 to 13.

“Most of the children who died were in the care of their grandparents,” he said.

He said the district’s disaster management commission had offered support to the families of the deceased, even though they were not listed as victims of a natural disaster. The Cambodian Red Cross sub-branch in the district had also offered condolences, in the form of rice, money and other materials.

Vun said authorities had constantly reminded parents to keep their eyes on their children around water, and to be careful of fire hazards.

District police chief Khuth Vuthy said that on June 25 alone, four children – three girls and a boy – drowned in a lake while using a boat to pick lotus fruit in Sambor commune’s Cheay Sampov village.

He identified the girls as 12-year-old Chit Raksmey and 13-year-olds Phan Sokchoeun and Phoeun Channa; and the boy as Run Ratha, 12. They all lived close to the lake.

Vuthy said the four were among seven students who visited the lake as they had no classes that afternoon. There, they saw the boat and dared each other to ride it. One boy decided to remain onshore.

The boy then saw the boat capsize and immediately went for help. He ran almost 1km before he found a motorcyclist who alerted the authorities.

“The youngest boy stayed on land. He called for help when he saw the boat turn over, but no one was around. He ran to get help, but due to the distance he had to cover an hour passed before assistance arrived. When adults arrived, they found the four drowned children,” he said.

He noted that two of the six on the boat knew how to swim and thus survived the accident.