The partner of the tour bus company involved in Sunday’s fatal crash in Prey Veng province was also in a similar crash in Siem Reap province in May that left eight tourists seriously injured, company representatives said yesterday.
On Sunday morning, one Indonesian man died, and six other foreign tourists were seriously injured when a night bus from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, operated by Kampuchea Angkor Express and carrying 34 passengers, slammed into the back of a parked truck on National Road 11.
On May 18, a night bus operated by Virak Buntham Express Travel carrying 35 passengers, plowed into a stationary truck on its way to Siem Reap province. Eight passengers were seriously injured in that accident.
Kampuchea Angkor Express and Virak Buntham Express Travel are partner companies and share the same fleet of buses, said company representatives.
“We are partner [companies]…. We use the same buses,” said Mr Kea Virak, who works for Kampuchea Angkor Express.
Suon Sam Ang, the manager of Virak Buntham Express, also acknowledged that the buses in both crashes were part of their partnered fleet.
Both representatives placed the full blame of both crashes on their drivers.
“It is the driver’s mistake. The company is not at fault,” Mr Sam Ang said.
Chan Sophal, the deputy police chief of Prey Veng’s Peamro district, where Sunday’s crash occurred, said that the driver had fled the scene following the crash.
“We are seeking the identification of the bus driver,” he said.
Preap Chanvobal, chief of the Interior Ministry’s road safety department, said that he will be taking part in a meeting in Siem Reap to discuss the latest crash, though he declined to provide any further details.
Nina Kristine, a 30-year-old Filipino woman who was in Sunday’s crash, lay in her single-bed room at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, awaiting leg amputation surgery that was due to be carried out yesterday afternoon.
“When the bus crashed, I did not go into shock but I could see my leg was severed…. Then I sent a text to my family to tell them I had been in an accident,” she said.
Back home in the Philippines, Ms Kristine works as senior support in an international call center.
“My boss offered to pay for me to be brought home, but I was advised by a Filipino doctor here that gangrene would set in quickly and I should get the surgery here. I am calm now because I am alone, but I know I will be upset when I see my family,” she said.
Ms Kristine’s family only had enough money to pay for a one-way ticket to Phnom Penh for her brother to come and look after her, but they are currently fundraising to provide him with living money while he is here.
Ms Kristine, who had been on holiday and had spent two days visiting Siem Reap when she took the night bus for Ho Chi Minh City, did not have travel insurance, as she thought that her work-provided Filipino health insurance would cover her. That has not proved to be the case.
“I will not worry now, I signed the [Khmer] consent form [for the amputation] with the help of a translator and the embassy have advised me to do this and worry about the cost after. As long as I still have one leg, I’m good,” she added.
Prior to her surgery, she enquired as to the wellbeing of the other passengers, particularly Irish passenger Michael O’Riordan, 29, from Mallow in County Cork, as Ms Kristine had been sitting near him and had conversed with him on the journey.
Mr O’Riordan’s sister, Catherine, arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday from Australia to arrange for her brother to be airlifted to Bangkok to continue treatment for internal injuries and a broken pelvis.
“He’s stable now, but we hope to arrange an airlift to Bangkok today,” said Ms O’Riordan. “The provincial police have his passport and said we would get it by 9 am [Tuesday morning] but as soon as that’s done, we’ll be getting him out of here.”
Kevin Treloar of Helicopters Cambodia, a company which provides Medevac emergency transfers to Bangkok, said the cost of such a transfer could be anywhere from $14,000 to $20,000.
Mr Kea Vireak, of Kampuchea Angkor Express, said that they had insured their vehicles with Cambodia-Vietnam Insurance, a majority Vietnamese-owned insurance firm with its Cambodian headquarters on Norodom Boulevard.
Mr Kea Vireak said the company had lodged an insurance claim following the bus crash but that they were waiting on police reports.
He insisted that the company would compensate passengers in accordance with the law.
Under 2002 Cambodian legislation, passenger transport companies are bound to purchase insurance. The legislation provides for a payment of “$5,000 at minimum per person for bodily injury or death.”