Minister of Tourism Calls for Investigation Into Drownings

After three children drowned in hotel swimming pools in the past week, the tourism minister said Tuesday that he would ask police to investigate the two hotels where the accidents occurred to decide whether they should be held liable.

Thong Khon, the minister, said the letter of request, set to be issued today, would also ask police to shut down the hotels until the investigations are finished.

“We will issue a letter to the hotels where the kids drowned in the pools, and if police find the hotel is at fault then we will shut down the hotel,” he said.

Mr. Khon added that in the future, the ministry would inspect hotels throughout the country to ensure they have lifeguards at their pools. He did not say when and where the inspections would take place, and added that because there is currently no law in place regulating hotel pools, the ministry would only be able to “recommend” that a hotel employ a lifeguard.

On April 15, two boys, aged 6 and 17, drowned within two hours of each other in the swimming pool at the Rock Royal Hotel & Resort in Kep City. And on Monday evening, a 4-year-old boy drowned in the swimming pool of the Hotel Gold Cambodia in Sihanoukville, said Phol Phorsda, Sihanoukville police chief.

Mr. Phorsda said the parents of Pang Piphup, from Kompong Thom province, left him in the care of his aunt at the pool at about 7 p.m.

“But the aunt was standing up and speaking with relatives and the 4-year-old fell in and drowned,” he said.

Kang Vanthou, an assistant manager, said his hotel did employ a lifeguard, but only until 6:30 p.m.

“This was not our mistake, because they knew our lifeguard left at 6:30,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the most common cause of death in children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Cambodia.

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