Seven Cambodians aged 6 to 64 drowned Monday in Koh Kong province when their chartered boat capsized along the Prek Kampong Soam river in Sre Ambel district, according to district police.
A total of 11 passengers in Sre Ambel commune were on their way to visit relatives elsewhere in the province for Chinese Lunar New Year when heavy waves tipped the vessel over, said district police chief Ma Ty. He blamed the accident on the negligence of the boat owner and driver, 64-year-old Sem Voeun.
“These motor boats are small, take on people past their capacity, and the boat sank because the boat driver was not careful and the passengers didn’t have life jackets,” said Mr Ty.
“I greatly regret this tragedy,” he said, adding government authorities try to persuade boat operators and passengers alike to wear preservers.
In addition to Mr Voeun, the victims were Rith Nak, 6, Ai Sam Oeun, 41, Ek Sophana, 13, Ek Sophara, 10, Y Sopheak, 13, and an 11-year-old girl, Sreang Srey Ty. Mr Ty said the five other passengers thrown overboard were soon rescued by another boat.
Provincial deputy judicial police chief Sin Sen blamed the accident on the passengers, whom he claimed were drinking alcohol during the boat trip.
“They put themselves in danger and drowned because they were not careful and traveling by a motor boat that had lots of people,” he said. “I am so sorry for this incident.”