Four Drown in Mekong After Boat Capsizes

Police Tuesday recovered from the Mekong river the last body following a boat accident Monday in which four teen-agers on their way to a holiday picnic drowned.

Authorities found the body of Sok Houng, 15, Tuesday morning after it floated to the surface of the Mekong in Kien Svay district, according to district police chief Maing Pich.

Sok Houng and her friends Sam Phal Raksa, 15, Sok Phana, 18, and Chiev Sinath, also 18, drowned Monday when their rental boat flipped over just 10 meters from the riverbank.

They were part of a group of 25 people who were going on a picnic to celebrate the Victory Day Over Genocide holiday, Maing Pich said.

The group, secondary public school students from Phnom Penh who all belonged to the same Christian church, had rented two separate boats to ferry them across the river to Veal Sbouv Island for the day, Maing Pich said.

The boats were in bad condition and were taking on water, Maing Pich said. About 10 meters from shore, one boat began to sink.

Several of the 13 passengers aboard the boat panicked and jumped up from their seats, Maing Pich said. The boat heaved, then flipped over, spilling the passengers and two crew members into the river, according to Maing Pich.

Nearby boats raced to help pull people out of the river, but the four teens could not swim, Maing Pich said. They all sank quickly into the murky water and drowned, Maing Pich said.

Police and neighbors searched the waters around the site of the disaster throughout Monday af­ternoon, Maing Pich said.

A group of fisherman provided assistance to the recovery effort by casting their nets into the water. They eventually recovered the bodies of Sam Phal Raksa, Sok Phana and Chiev Sinath. The body of Sok Houng was found Tuesday morning.

The section of the Mekong in which the teens drowned is very deep, Maing Pich said.


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