Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monks bless stampede bridge

Monks bless stampede bridge

Monks bless stampede bridge

THE firm developing Diamond Island held a ceremony yesterday for victims of the deadly stampede last month that killed 353 on a bridge to the island.

About 100 monks, including 21 senior monks from as far afield as China, Vietnam and Taiwan, led the Chinese-language ceremony,  joined by 300 others from the capital’s Chinese-Cambodian community, including members of Chinese associations, students and business leaders.

“This ceremony is aimed at paying tribute to the dead and allowing them to rest in peace,” said Pung Khiav Se, general director of Diamond Island developer Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation.

Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema led an official ceremony last week to reopen the bridge, which is now open only to traffic exiting the island in order to guard against a recurrence of the Water Festival tragedy. The governor also said OCIC had plans to build two additional bridges to the mainland.

An official investigation of put the death toll at 353, with 393 injured. The investigation committee said the incident occurred when festival-goers panicked over the swaying of the suspension bridge and rumours that it might collapse.

However, the committee did not ascribe responsibility for the disaster to any particular official, drawing criticism from the opposition and NGOs, who said it lacked the independence and competence to perform a thorough investigation and noting that the only member of the committee who was not a government official was Pung Khiav Se.

Say Sengly, director of the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital, said seven victims of the stampede were still receiving treatment as of yesterday, but that five in that group were scheduled to be discharged today. Chhouy Meng, head of the emergency care unit at Calmette Hospital, said yesterday that about 20 bridge victims were still receiving urgent care at the hospital.

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