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Security measures in place for Water Festival

Police patrol the Phnom Penh river front during the Water Festival in 2014.
Police patrol the Phnom Penh river front during the Water Festival in 2014. Vireak Mai

Security measures in place for Water Festival

With the population of Phnom Penh set to swell for the coming Water Festival, National Police on Friday ticked off planned measures to ensure public safety but also identified a silver lining to the crowds: a few hundred thousand potential detectives.

At the meeting, police officials said authorities are hoping to utilise the extra eyeballs in town for the November 13-15 event to scan the crowds for wanted criminals.

“We will post pictures of theft and fraud suspects on Facebook because people . . . can check their smartphones and be more cautious, and they can report to us when they see these suspicious people [during the event],” Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naroth told security officials.

According to Naroth, a total of 10,032 personnel – comprising national and military police officers, bodyguards, navy officers, technical experts and Ministry of Health officials – will also be deployed on each of the three days, with forces concentrated in areas where people are expected to gather.

Additionally, four hospitals will operate around the clock, with 31 ambulances on standby. The police fire brigade will also perform safety checks on stalls and educate vendors on fire precautionary measures.

When asked if the city will also be rounding up beggars ahead of the festival and sending them to the controversial Prey Speu detention centre, the facility’s chief, Ban Vutha, said: “We round up beggars from the streets every day, not just during Water Festival.”

This will be the second celebration held in six years, following a tragedy on the final day of the 2010 festival in which 353 people were killed in a crush on a bridge connecting the mainland to Koh Pich.

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