Svay Rieng town’s Water Festival celebrations nearly ended in tragedy when a firework misfired and six boat racers from Siem Reap sustained serious to light injuries on Sunday night, police said yesterday.
Sar Kosal, Po Tahor commune police chief, said that at about 8pm, the flaming pyrotechnic fell by the waterside tent from which the racers were watching.
“It was a technical error that the firework did not explode [in the air]; it just sprayed some flames down to injure some people,” said Kosal, adding that the rocket had then fallen into the water, possibly averting further injuries.
According to the police chief, all six victims were immediately sent to the provincial hospital and later transferred to Siem Reap Provincial Hospital.
Injured racer Ream Soveat, 30, said that the incident came as his team was celebrating the day’s win.
“I was talking to my friends and then the flame came and burned my right hand, the right of my body and both legs,” he said.
Soveat said that the fireworks were fired about 20 metres from the tent the racers were in, and said he bore no ill will towards the festival organisers as the harm was not intentional.
Soveat said he sought no compensation, but “the provincial officials offered some money to us”, though the amount varied from person to person.
Provincial officials could not be reached yesterday, and police said they didn’t know where the fireworks were procured or whether an investigation would be opened.