Six people died Saturday when two cars careened off the road and into a valley in Koh Kong province, marking the first accident on the newly reconstructed National Road 48, officials said.
A pickup truck carrying 12 passengers tried to overtake a truck with four people aboard as they were heading around a sharp bend at approximately 5 pm Saturday, said Ouk Sokha, provincial traffic police chief.
It was raining and the two vehicles collided along a particularly steep stretch of road about 25 km from Koh Kong town, and went over the guardrail, tumbling 40 meters downhill into a valley, he said.
Four people died on the spot, two more died on the way to the hospital and the remaining 10 have sustained injuries, he said, adding that one woman died in the accident and two of the injured are Indian nationals.
Sempamha Vuth, Handicap International’s road traffic accident and victim information systems manager, said Monday that National Road 48 is an extremely treacherous throughway that has only become more so since it was paved earlier this year.
“It is very curvy and very dangerous,” he said by telephone, adding that the new, smooth surface allows drivers to go faster than they may have previously gone.
Lights and traffic signs have been installed on the road that warn of bends ahead, but most people do not heed them, Sempamha Vuth said.
“This is the first accident on the new road,” he said, adding that he fears it could be the first of many if drivers do not take more care.
Koh Kong Provincial Deputy Governor Em Samyorn claimed that the two cars were drag racing at the time of the accident, adding that both vehicles were destroyed in the crash.
He said the roughly 160 km of National Road 48 from Sre Ambel to Koh Kong, which have been under construction since 2004, are nearly finished and due to be inaugurated in April.
“Nowadays, about 90 percent of the route is paved,” he said.