Infant Chokes to Death After Fish Jumps Into Her Mouth

After being turned away from three clinics on Thursday, a baby girl in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district choked to death on a small fish that had accidentally fallen into her mouth, police and relatives said Sunday.

The incident occurred in Chroy Changva’s Prek Tasek commune while 7-month-old Khorn Sreyka’s aunt was teasing her with the fish, trying to get her to stick her tongue out, said commune police chief Khuon Chheang.

“The little baby was very lovely and people liked to play with her and she liked sticking her tongue out,” Mr. Chheang said. “On the day of the accident, her aunt took a dog-tongue fish to play with her.” The fish then jumped out of the aunt’s hands and into the baby’s mouth, before lodging in her throat, he said.

Mr. Chheang added that before the baby was pronounced dead at Kantha Bopha Hospital, her family took her to three local clinics, but they all said they were not equipped to treat her.

“She was rejected because they said they did not have the ability to help the baby because it was not their specialization; there was no [necessary] equipment and her condition was too serious,” he said.

Chea Sophen, the aunt who had been playing with Khorn Sreyka, said she decided to use the fish for play simply because it was sitting nearby.

“A girl took the fish that she had found and put it on the bed, and then I took it and played with it with my niece. Unfortunately, the fish jumped out of my hand and into her mouth,” Ms. Sophen said.

“Suddenly, she began crying so much and then her parents and the neighbors appeared to help her and tried to take the fish out of her mouth, but it continued going in,” she added.

Before she could be asked further questions, Ms. Sophen passed the phone to her sister, Chea Sa Em.

Ms. Sa Em said the victim’s mother, her other sister, had no plans to press charges.

“It happened accidentally,” she said.

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