Four young children, including twin brothers and their niece, drowned on Monday afternoon while playing in a Takeo province pond that supplies the area with clean water, a local official said on Tuesday, the latest in a recent spate of mass drownings.
Min Mao, chief of Angkor Borei district’s Prey Phkoam commune, said that the children—4-year-old twin brothers, their 3-year-old niece and another 4-year-old boy—had gone to bathe and play in the pond without telling anyone.
“They went to take a bath and we did not know,” Mr. Mao said. “Their parents were busy feeding the pigs.”
The commune chief said the pond, about 1 hectare in size, was dug three or four years ago in neighboring Prey Kabbas district and was typically not used for swimming or bathing.
Mr. Mao said he was not aware of any previous mass drownings in the area.
The tragedy is the second in less than a month. In Preah Sihanouk province late last month, seven girls drowned, including two sisters, after their overloaded wooden boat sank in a reservoir where they had gone to collect water lilies.
Child drownings are an all-too-common problem, according to Safety When It Matters, or SWIM, a U.K.-based charity helping teach Cambodians how to prevent drownings.
Liz Walker, a training coordinator for SWIM, said 2,094 children drowned in Cambodia last year, an average of one child every four hours.
“So six children drown every day,” she said. “And a lot of it could be avoided through education.”
She attributed the “very very high” number to several factors: “Lack of education, really, lack of knowledge about how to prevent against drowning, and lack of knowledge about what to do when someone drowns. Also not knowing how to do CPR if somebody is pulled from the water.”
Ms. Walker said effective prevention also included teaching people how to help others without getting into the water themselves.
“A lot of children drown because [when] one slips in, another one slips in to help them. Two people drowned,” she said. “You can help without going into the water.”