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Tragedy at amusement park

Tragedy at amusement park

5 Ansou Lina

A woman died last night after falling from a spinning ride at Phnom Penh’s Dreamland amusement park in an accident the company’s management claim was caused by her intentionally slipping out of a steel safety harness.

Kim Kongkea, a 33-year-old mother of two, was riding The Twister, also known as The Twin Twister, when the accident happened at about 7:15pm.

Speaking from Calmette Hospital, the victim’s aunt, Sek Somaly, said she saw Kongkea’s footwear fall to the ground first.

“Later, I saw my niece fall to the ground,” she said.

Soeun Chanthou, 25, who was sitting next to her on the ride, said she saw her friend fall out of her seat. It took another four minutes for the ride to stop, she said.

Medical staff at Calmette said Kongkea had died by the time she arrived in an ambulance.

Ly Bunsan, operations manager at Dreamland, in Daun Penh district’s Chaktomuk commune, said the woman had boarded the Italian-made ride with friends.

“We were on half-speed and the operator saw the victim acting strangely as far as her gestures go,” he said. “Maybe she has had some kind of panic attack. That’s why we turned off the machine.”

As the ride slowed, Bunsan said, the victim “jumped” from four metres above the ride’s platform and landed a metre further down on the concrete.

Meas Sopheara, the deputy sales and marketing manager, said witnesses had said the woman appeared terrified and was trying to squeeze through her steel safety harness as a friend tried to hold her in.

Sopheara claimed that when the ride stopped, the woman's steel safety harness and a safety bar that covered her seat remained closed.

When a Post reporter arrived at Dreamland after 9pm, the ride was running again with people in it and a sign saying “full extreme”.

“We wanted to show we do not have a technical problem,” Bunsan said. Passengers must be at least 1.3 metres tall to board the ride, but there are no weight limitations.

“She was very small,” Bunsan said. “But I don’t think she was too small [for the ride]. We are very sorry about what has happened.”

Additional reporting by Cheang Sokha

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