Search-and-rescue operations for the victims of a ferry sinking were completed at 6am on October 15 after the body of the last victim, a 14-year-old boy, was recovered.

The vessel sank on the evening of October 13 in Kampong Phnom commune’s Koh Chamroeun village of Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district. Three people associated with the ferry service have been taken into custody.

Senior Minister and first vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management Kun Kim told Fresh News on October 15 that the total death toll was 11, all young students.

Four people survived the sinking – two students and the two crew of the vessel.

Authorities said the students attended extra classes in neighbouring Tonloap commune’s Kampong Chamlong village after school. The were returning home from class when the tragedy occurred.

Local residents said the location was dry and passable on foot during the dry season, but flooded in the rainy season. They said this year’s waters had risen to a high level, constituting a barrier to travel to Chamroeun Island, especially for the students who have to cross back and forth. The water at the location of the sinking is about 3 metres deep.

Kandal provincial police chief Chhoeun Sochet said that the boat used to transport the students was in a deteriorated condition, with rotten timber and substandard joins. Preliminary investigations had determined that the vessel was not fit for purpose.

He added that three people have been arrested. Two are the owners of the ferry service, and one is a 15-year-old crew member of the boat.