Child Lost at Water Festival Still Unclaimed by Parents

Leaning on a desk in a Chak­tomuk commune police station Mon­day, Hach, 9, the last un­claimed child of five brought to the station during the Water Fes­ti­val, said he lost his family in a crowd Saturday.

Officials didn’t yet know Mon­day the number of children lost  dur­ing the festival, but Kuon Phal, chief of the Phnom Penh po­lice’s social order department, said that the number of lost children appeared to have risen this year.

Hach was brought to police after spending Sunday with a wo­man who noticed him crying while she was weighing revelers on her portable scale. Hach could iden­tify his parents only as “Heang” and “Pok.” He said he lives near the Stung Meanchey dump and is a first-grade student at Santhor Mok School.

“We announced lost kids over the radio to police in all seven districts in Phnom Penh,” said Chea Sothy, commune police chief. “I will buy lunch for [Hach] and keep him here for one night. If his parents don’t come to get him, I will send him to the district level.”

The son of Heng Hin, 56, a Kom­pong Speu farmer, also went mis­sing during the festival.

Heng Hin did not have enough money to come to the Water Fes­ti­val, but his 16-year-old son Heng Khnak hopped on a truck to Phnom Penh. When his son did­n’t return, Heng Hin pawned his rice field for less than $40 to come with his wife to Phnom Penh, where they found their son.

“I regret the loss of my rice field, but I love my kid,” he said.

Heng Khnak’s mother wept when she was reunited with her son, Chea Sothy said.

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