Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Police speak to rowers after their boat was hit by a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river near the Royal Palace this morning, leaving two missing and presumed dead.
Police speak to rowers after their boat was hit by a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river near the Royal Palace this morning, leaving two missing and presumed dead. Hong Menea

Two rowers missing, presumed dead in Tonle Sap boat crash

Two rowers from a boat racing team in town for the Water Festival are missing, presumed dead, after their vessel collided with a cruise ship on the Tonle Sap river this morning.

The men – identified as Chhoen Chorn, 36, and Sok Chan Chesda, 18 – were among nine members of a team from Phnom Penh’s Prek Thmei commune preparing to practice ahead of a race this evening when their craft was clipped by the 223-foot Cruiseco Adventurer, a river cruise ship that runs between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Ouch Soy, 56, a crewman sitting next to the two victims at the time, said their vessel was caught in the path of the faster cruise ship and struck on the left-hand side approximately four metres from the stern at about 7:15 am.

“The ship blew their horn but our boat was slow and could not move away,” Soy said.

“All of the people jumped out of the boat, which was broken in the crash. When the ship hit us, I jumped out of the boat, while Chorn and Chesda did not jump. They just sat, ducked their heads and disappeared into the water.”

“After [the crew from the Adventurer] threw the life-saving devices, they drove away without pulling us from the water.”

Soy said the company and crew had begun discussions about a settlement, though the amount of compensation would be determined after the pair’s bodies are found.

An email to the Australia-based Cruiseco Line, which also operates tours in Myanmar, has yet to be answered.

Crewman Yang Vanda, 25, said he did not think his teammates would be found alive.

“They’ve been missing for hours in the water,” said Vanda, who praised authorities for helping to pull the survivors from the water after the boat capsized.

Prek Thmei commune chief Ly Vantheng, who is head of the team, said a team of Cham fishermen had been employed to dive and try and find the victims.

He added the team was unlikely to race after the tragedy.

“I don’t know how it could be enjoyable since two people are missing,” Ventheng said.

“We feel much regret over the incident… we came to here to celebrate the national festival… the company also didn’t want this to happen and have expressed their regret.”

Chhin Ketana, secretary general for the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, said the races this evening were organised by City Hall and were not part of the official Water Festival, which begins on Sunday.

Reached earlier today, City Hall spokesman Meas Chanyada declined to comment, saying he was busy.

Today’s crash is not the first tragedy to befall the Water Festival, which has been cancelled several times in recent years for reasons including floods, low water levels and political tensions.

In 2010, more than 300 people died and hundreds more were injured after a stampede erupted during celebrations on Koh Pich.


  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Shipments of mango to South Korea poised to begin this week

    Exports of Cambodian mangoes to South Korea will begin this week after Korean authorities gave the nod. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements director Ker Monthivuth told The Post on Sunday that after several inspections of

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that