The families of two men who drowned after their Water Festival rowing boat collided with a cruise ship carrying Vietnamese tourists have accepted $20,000 compensation each from the company, according to the boat’s team leader.
Sok Chanchesda, 18, and Chhoeun Chon, 36, were paddling on the Tonle Sap river in central Phnom Penh on November 11—among nine crew members on the Reasmey Sreysros Danh Tep Senchey boat two days ahead of festival races—when a ship owned by Cruiseco smashed into them and sank their vessel.
Their bodies were discovered the following day floating at separate sites in Kandal province.
Despite the father of Chhoeun Chon initially demanding $35,000 from Cruiseco, Men Bunreth, the team leader of the boat, said on Tuesday that the families had accepted $20,000 each from the company on Saturday.
“Chhoeun Chon’s family said it was fair to get $20,000 in compensation, but Sok Chanchesda’s family said it was not,” Mr. Bunreth said.
“No one wants to sell their children to get money—$20,000—but the accident already happened and the victims are already dead and there is no way to get them back so they took the compensation,” he said.
“Taking the compensation cannot always solve the problem and this amount of money cannot compare to a human being’s life,” he said.
Despite this, Mr. Bunreth said he believed the compensation was reasonable.
“I think the amount of compensation is acceptable for me if I compare it to road accidents, where some victims receive no compensation,” he said.
Liv Vanntheng, the commune chief of Prek Thmei—in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district, where the rowers hailed from—confirmed that the families had accepted the $20,000 payments but declined to comment further.
Family members of Sok Chanchesda and Chhoeun Chon could not be reached, and Cruiseco did not respond to a request for comment.