A South Korean man and his 4-year-old son drowned off the coast of Sihanoukville’s O’Tres beach on Friday despite a pledge by police this week to drastically increase beach patrols in Preah Sihanouk province after a spate of similar incidents.
The accidents mark a total of six drownings in the province since August 10, all but one of them foreigners. It is the first accident to occur after officials said they had deployed 140 police officers across five beaches along the coast, which has recently been hit by high winds.
Friday’s trouble began a little after 9 a.m., when South Korean Lee Min Seock, 40, who was staying at a local hotel with his wife, floated a small raft out to sea with his son, Lee Seungjae, according to Luy Hang, police chief of Sihanoukville’s Buon commune.
As Lee Min Seock swam in the ocean, his son gradually drifted away—ending up 30 meters from the beach—and panicked.
The son “tried to go back, but he fell off of his raft,” Mr. Hang said. Lee Min Seock “saw that his son was drowning” and “went to rescue, but unfortunately he drowned, too.”
“The waves of the sea were quiet, but maybe they could not swim,” he said, adding that Lee Min Seock’s wife had the bodies arranged to be transported to Phnom Penh and then to South Korea for their funeral.
Nop Panha, a deputy provincial police chief, said that a “boat of foreigners and Cambodians tried to rescue the victims” but arrived too late.
Authorities posted letters and made loudspeaker announcements on the beach beginning last Saturday warning beachgoers of high winds, he said.
Mr. Panha, who on Sunday said that officers had held an “an urgent meeting to prepare forces to rescue people” last weekend, declined to say whether any of the 140 officers deployed across five beaches were present on the beach at the time of the latest drownings.
Provincial police chief Chuon Narin, who first confirmed the deployment of forces, also declined to comment.