Four people on board an overloaded tour boat in Kampot province died when the craft sank after running into a submerged sandbar on Monday, local authorities said.
According to Kampong Bay commune police chief Lim Sambo, three women and one boy – identified as 47-year-old Chin Ny, her 9-year-old son Sang Sokheng and 72-year-old mother Khan Yiv, as well as 62-year-old Sok Sokhom – were found dead after the boat, returning from watching fireflies, sank, presumably after hitting the riverbed.
“The boat might have collided with the sand,” Sambo speculated. “It carried too many people. After [the collision], the boat started to sink little by little.”
According to Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chan Makthurith, the tour boat – designed to carry a maximum load of 50 to 60 passengers – carried 70 to 80 local tourists that day.
Twenty-four-year-old Yuos Chandarid, a relative of three of the deceased, said his father-in-law, a survivor of the accident, said there had been inadequate life vests on board.
“My father-in-law told me that he heard a bang sound, and water started entering the boat. People were running and fighting for life vests,” he said. “He looked for his wife and son but could not find them . . . he found his mother-in-law and dragged her to the lifeboat, but it was too late.”
“This is a huge loss for my family because we lost three family members. We want a proper explanation on what caused the accident,” he added.
According to Makthurith, while the driver of the boat had fled, the vessel’s owner had been arrested.
“We are very upset about the incident and the driver must face the law. We already know his identity,” he said, adding that all tourist boats will be temporarily suspended pending a provincial meeting.