9-Year-Old Girl Latest to Drown Along Sihanoukville Coastline

A strong wave pulled three sisters and their father into the sea near Sokha Beach in Sihanoukville on Monday evening, drowning a 9-year-old girl whose body was found in the surf on Tuesday morning, a police official said.

Those near the beach rescued the other two sisters and their father, Van Leang, 53, a motorcycle taxi driver, as they floundered in the water at about 6 p.m., said Nop Panha, a deputy police chief in Preah Sihanouk province.

Vendors on Sihanoukville's O'Chheuteal Beach in 2011 (Creative Commons)
Vendors on Sihanoukville’s O’Chheuteal Beach in 2011 (Creative Commons)

The girls’ father had taken them to the small Kantuy Neak Beach, or Dragon’s Tail Beach, to play in the surf after work, Mr. Panha said. The public beach is just to the east of the 1.5 km long Sokha beach.

“The four people were playing in the Kantuy Neak beach at 5:50 p.m. and they almost drowned when a big wave hit them and pulled them into the deep water,” he said.

“The father almost drowned while he was trying to help his daughters at that time, but my four tourism police and some business people rescued him and his two daughters,” he added.

Rescuers looked for the missing girl, Him Sok Heng, until well after dark on Monday, and resumed the search on Tuesday morning until her body was found at about 9 a.m., he said.

Responding to a spate of drownings last month, provincial officials have announced plans to reduce the number of fatalities along the coast, especially in areas that are frequented by tourists. At least six people drowned last month, including five foreigners.

After initially deploying dozens of police to patrol the beaches in late August, officials said earlier this month that they would recruit and train local tuk-tuk drivers and beach vendors to become standby lifeguards and crime catchers.

“We have recruited 41 lifeguards, and we sent 33 people for a two-day training last week,” Mr. Panha said on Tuesday.

“We are now continuing to recruit more people as lifeguards because we need them not only to rescue people from drowning,  but also to provide security for tourists.”

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