A 13-year-old girl from Kampong Thom province and her mother were discovered drowned in a pond. They decided to bathe while herding cows in Tbong Krapeu village of Santuk district’s Kakoh commune on the afternoon of April 26.

Commune police chief Bit Bun Phoeun said on April 27 identified the victims as Hem Yat, 41, and her daughter Phat Sinath, a sixth-grade student. They lived in the commune’s Chey Chumneas village.

“The place where the victims drowned was a pit that was dug up to 3m deep. We know they went in to take a bath – perhaps the daughter slipped into deep water and the mother got into difficulty trying to help her,” he said.

Citing villagers, he said Yat had a husband and four children – three sons and the deceased daughter. Due to poverty and the husband’s illness, the family had sold their farmland and were living with relatives. On the day of the incident, the mother and daughter were herding cattle, together with the daughter of another villager.

The woman and her daughter bathed at the foot of the pit. The other girl was some way from them, but when she did not see them emerge, she went to look. It was then that she saw the mother floating on the surface of the water, and ran 3km to get help, he said.

The villagers returned to the site as soon as the alarm was raised, but were not in time to rescue the pair, he added.

Chey Chomnas village chief Phlok Koam said their bodies were cremated on April 27. Provincial and district authorities had donated 50kg of rice and some food to the victims’ relatives.

“They could not be rescued as it happened 3km from the village,” he said.