Three students, who played in the Mekong River after school hours, drowned on Wednesday in Peam Chileang village, Peam Chileang commune, Tbong Khmum province. Their two other companions were saved by villagers.
Commune chief Huoy Leanghuot said the students were supposed to attend an after-school English class but soon left the premises after their teacher failed to show up.
Instead of going home, the students decided to take a swim in the nearby Mekong River. However, one of the students had gone where the water was deepest, causing her to drown. Two others drowned while attempting to save her.
“Some passersby heard the cries of the students. The villagers rushed to help but only managed to save two of the students. Their companions went missing for more than two hours before their bodies were finally found,” said Leanghuot.
While he could not reveal the names of the survivors, Leanghuot identified the dead as Leang Kunthea, 13; Kong Thavy, 12; and Long Ching Ching, 11. All were residents of Peam Chileang commune’s Prek Sdau village. The two survivors were aged 12 and 13.
District governor Keng Bunna could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
“We offer our condolences to the deceased. The authorities had previously called for vigilance, and told the residents not to play in the water,” said a district police official, who asked not to be named.
A 60-year-old commune resident said he had seen the students riding their bicycles as they left the school premises, but had no idea they were going to take a dip in the river.
“While I was drying rice in the sun in front of my house, I saw the five coming from school, riding their bicycles. I didn’t know they were going to the river. Later, I heard villagers saying that the students drowned. I think that it is very sad,” he said.