Forty-Six Killed in Traffic Accidents During Water Festival

Forty-six people across the country were killed in traffic accidents between Tuesday and Saturday last week as 1.6 million people flocked to Phnom Penh’s riverfront to celebrate the Water Festival, according to the National Police.

According to figures posted to the National Police website Sunday, in addition to the fatalities, 93 people were seriously injured and another 104 received minor injuries in traffic accidents throughout Cambodia. During the five-day period, there were a total of 98 traffic accidents, the website added.

This year, 17 more people were killed and 80 more were injured than during the same period last year, when the Water Festival was canceled. The 2014 Water Festival was held from Wednesday to Friday, but the police statistics also counted accidents on Tuesday and Saturday, when many were traveling.

Keph Sopheak, the Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy traffic police chief, said Sunday that 13 people, including three foreign nationals, were injured in an accident Friday on National Road 4 in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune.

Mr. Sopheak said that at about 7 p.m., a container truck from the Hong Leng Huor Company was transporting goods from the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port to Phnom Penh when it veered into oncoming traffic and collided with four cars returning from Phnom Penh.

Three people were seriously injured in the crash, including a Swiss national whom police identified as Poliewulsk Dariusz Zdzislaw, 60; a U.S. citizen identified as Choporkon Stantin, 36; and a Cambodian man, Nhoem Ra, 28. All three injured men were sent to private clinics in Sihanoukville for treatment, Mr. Sopheak said.

“The reason for the accident was because the truck was speeding and went into the wrong lane while going down a hill,” Mr. Sopheak said. “The driver fled after the accident.”

Mr. Sopheak added that the unidentified truck driver remains at large.

Despite the high number of accidents, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said this year’s Water Festival saw a decrease in crime compared to 2010, when the previous festival was held. He declined to provide specific figures, however.

“We know we had some crime during the ceremonies, but we prevented most of it on time,” Mr. Dimanche said. “We cannot prevent all crimes from happening.”

About 100,000 people attended the first day of the Water Festival, while on the second and third days, 500,000 and 1 million revelers, respectively, took part, he said.

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