The bodies of two schoolgirls were found on May 14, one day after they were swept away in a river bank collapse in Prek Dach village and commune of Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district.
Commune police chief Phorn Phoeun told The Post on May 15 that the victims were 12-year-old Vannak Si and 12-year-old Bun Thoeun Srey Leak, both Grade 7 students at Prek Touch Secondary School.
“Their bodies emerged about 20m from where they went missing,” he said.
He said their teacher had not scheduled classes the day they were drowned, and four students were standing on a wall of sandbags that protected the river bank. Villagers who were filling more sandbags told them to go home, but were ignored.
The workers heard screams as all four plunged into the river. Two of the four were rescued, but the others disappeared beneath the water.
He said authorities dived throughout the day but could not locate the missing girls.
The next day, the bodies emerged from the water and were handed over to their parents for funerals.
Commune chief Khmao Ron said the parents were poor and that local and district authorities had donated money and some rice to their families.
“Due to their traditional beliefs, the victims’ parents held a ceremony and asked the holy river spirit to return their children. The bodies appeared soon after the prayer, though I am sure it was just a coincidence,” he said.