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UN: Stock up before King Father's funeral

UN: Stock up before King Father's funeral

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Shoppers are seen at Pencil Supermarket in Phnom Penh, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Through warnings vaguely resembling those issued in times of disaster, the Australian Embassy and the UN have advised their employees to stock up on emergency supplies of food and water ahead of the seven-day mourning period, which begins with a four-day funeral, for King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

In an email addressed to staff and their families and obtained by the Post yesterday, the embassy advises people to have sufficient supplies to last “several days” and to be “extra vigilant with security” at home.

The UN’s email, also obtained yesterday, tells staff to “make sure that they have everything they need from the supermarket” prior to the weekend, due to the expected closure of many restaurants and shops.

“If in trouble, it may take some time for assistance to reach you, if at all!” it reads.

Authorities are expecting up to 1.5 million people to attend the funeral, which begins on Friday.

Concerns have been raised about what crowd control measures will be in place, in light of the Koh Pich Bridge collapse in 2010, in which 353 people died.

Tens of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Phnom Penh in October to see the King Father’s body return from Beijing, where he died at the age of 89.

Shoppers at Lucky Supermarket on Sihanouk Boulevard yesterday seemed unsure of what to expect this time around.

Josh, a teacher at an international school, said he was planning to bunker down at home for the first four days. “There’s not much else I can do,” he said. “I’m stocking up on pasta and that kind of thing, just in case...  You never know here, do you?”

However, the supermarket’s marketing officer, Setya Vuthy, said the opening hours wouldn’t change over the weekend.

Meanwhile, medical services are expected to be limited, with some clinics, including International SOS on Street 51, to close for the four days.

Clinic manager Mel Bright said the decision had been made in the interests of Cambodian staff, and at the request of authorities.

Australian Embassy and UN representatives could not be reached.

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