Officials Report 8 Holiday Deaths, 75 Injuries

Five teen-age boys were stabbed at Phnom Penh’s Wat Phnom over the holiday weekend after smearing the faces of young wo­men with powder as part of Khmer New Year celebrations.

Six or seven male friends of the girls were offended by the powdering. “They thought the group was trying to molest their girlfriends, so they chased them through the crowd and stabbed them with small knives,” Second Lieutenant Sim Bunsong told the Associated Press Wednesday.

Two of the victims are in serious but stable condition at Cal­mette Hospital. The attackers fled the scene and have not been arrested.

Elsewhere in the country, the holiday death toll is rising.

With just seven provinces re­porting figures, the death toll on Wednesday reached eight, with 75 people injured. As thousands of Cambodians traveled to the provinces to visit their families, most of the victims were hurt on the road. Police blamed the accidents on drunk-driving, speed and road-rule violations.

In Pailin town, a 41-year-old woman was decapitated and six others were injured when their overloaded truck hit a low-slung branch hanging over the road, local police reported.

Twenty-one holiday revelers visiting Angkor Wat were hurt when their truck crashed into the wall surrounding the ancient Ta Prohm complex. Six people suffered serious injuries and were hospitalized, police said.

In Takeo province, a Cambo­dian-American returning to visit his family in Bati district was killed Sunday when his motorbike collided with an oncoming car. Police are questioning the driver.

Two men are dead after being stabbed in a drunken knife fight Saturday night in Tram Kak district, Takeo province. Several suspects, whom police described as gangsters, have been arrested.

Also in Takeo, a suspect was arrested for stealing a cow. Police said the man confessed he wanted to sell the animal to raise money for the New Year festivities.

A man driving on Route 5 mowed down a motorbike, a remarque, a bicycle and several pedestrians Saturday morning, killing two people and seriously injuring three, police said. The driver, a Phnom Penh resident who was visiting his wife’s family, is awaiting trial in Kompong Chhnang provincial court.

In Phnom Penh, two people were killed and 24 were injured in traffic accidents. Ek Rindy, de­puty chief of traffic police, said the holiday toll was lower than during last year’s Water Festival because fewer people stayed in the capital over the weekend. Police could not provide statistics for previous holiday weekends.

Outside the capital, thousands of trucks heavily loaded with passengers were left stranded from early morning to late in the afternoon, waiting to make the ferry crossing at Neak Loeung.

Officials estimated that 100,000 passengers used the crossing to the eastern provinces on Thurs­day and Monday, the first and last days of the holiday.

Drivers complained bitterly that officials were attempting to extort money from them in exchange for helping them get ahead in the queue.

But ferry officials said they did everything they could to lessen delays on the overtaxed service.

“We did a lot of favors on those days to save the traffic problem,” ferry deputy director Seng Chhuon said Wednesday.



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