A Week On, Koh Pich Victims Still Remain at Hospital

When Oem Sophea, 25, mentioned that her brother remains in intensive care, their mother at her bedside in Calmette Hospital burst into tears.

“Please be strong. It has happened already,” Ms Sophea said, turning her bruised face to her mother. “I always worry about my brother’s situation. But I don’t know his condition because the doctors have not told me anything.”

Ms Sophea and her brother Oem Sovannith, 27, were trapped in the stampede on Diamond Bridge last week with two nieces and a nephew who were crushed to death. Ms Sophea yesterday explained that half her body was in pain and she had only been able to walk for two days.

In the aftermath of the stampede, the bodies of 351 dead and about 400 injured victims were mostly delivered by ambulance to Phnom Penh’s hospitals. The mayhem of that night in Calmette Hospital was replaced by calm a week on.

Yet the crowded hospital’s hallways were still lined with makeshift beds for patients with relatives sitting on the floor nearby.

Lan Bun Thorn, 18, lying on a drip in another ward, was recovering after being rescued from the water when she threw herself from the bridge. “I don’t know how to swim but everyone said that if I didn’t jump I would die. It was difficult to breathe,” she said.

Ms Bun Thorn yesterday suffered a headache, vomiting and pain throughout her body, especially in her legs, which replaced early numbness. “Now I feel better but I don’t know when I have to leave.”

About 110 patients from the Koh Pich tragedy remained in the hospital, said Hong Chamroeurn, who said he was accounting official at Calmette. Another 31 women and 19 men injured in the stampede remained at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, according to its director, Dr Say Sengly.

“Now all the patients have improved and some can leave tomorrow,” he said, noting that five patients were in intensive care and two others transferred to Calmette yesterday.

Dr Prom Chamroeurn, on duty at the Khmer-Soviet hospital’s intensive care unit, said the five patients suffered from severe internal bruising and other injuries.

“If any problem happens, we send them to Calmette Hospital,” Mr Chamroeurn said, noting two patients were transferred yesterday for treatment. “The two patients were seriously injured inside and bled when urinating.”

Nhoem Chhaiy, 20, one of thirteen patients left in a building at the Khmer-Soviet hospital that admitted 28 people from the stampede, said the recovery of his legs, the incident still haunted him.

“I still feel scared at night because a lot of people died that night,” Mr Chhaiy said, adding that two people lying face up next to him suffocated to death when others piled on top.


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