Three female students drowned after they and three other schoolgirls went swimming in a river in Bak Chinhchien commune of Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district on May 18.

Commune police chief Sao Samith said on May 19 that the six students from Bak Chinhchien Secondary School went swimming in the river at the Krabao Chhrom bridge in Krabao Chhrom village, about 4km from their school after class on May 18.

He said three of the girls who were swimming stayed in shallow waters, while the others went out into deeper water and drowned at about 2pm that day. They shouted for help from their friends, but the other three students were not strong enough swimmers to be able to render them assistance and they instead went to get help.

Local villagers and then the deceased’s parents searched for them in the water, but to no avail.

“The area where they went swimming is rich in sand and there are sand pits in the water, so they probably fell into one. Villagers and police searched for them, but we didn’t see them,” Samith said. “People often visit the Krabao Chhrom bridge to go swimming over the Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben holidays, but most know they should only swim in the shallow water.”

Deputy district police chief Chhim Meanban identified the three deceased as Tha Srey Mey, Kim Sok Kieng and Chea Srey Neat. They were all 14-years-old and in grade 8 the Bak Chinhchien Secondary School located in the commune’s Tuol Pongrea village.

He added that the body of Srey Mey was spotted by a fisherman on May 19, about 10m away from the bridge, and was recovered and returned to her family.

“The body was floating in the water and was found at around 6:30am this morning,” he said, adding that the two other bodies were recovered later that day.