Two people died on Friday and one was seriously injured in two related traffic accidents in Siem Reap province’s Prasat Bakorng district, local police said yesterday, adding that one of the accidents was caused by illegal wood smugglers who often speed across the provincial roads at night.
Prasat Bakorng district police chief Min Chanta said a truck loaded with fish was driving on National Road 6 when it hit two people traveling on a motorbike, instantly killing one and critically injuring the passenger, who later died in the hospital.
Mr Chanta said a crowd soon gathered on National Road 6 in Trapaing Thom commune, where the accident took place, and police were busy setting up a barricade around the crash site, when six cars suspected of carrying illegal rosewood drove into the barricade and severely injured one of the bystanders.
“The illegal loggers are very rude drivers and crashed into our barricade. If we did not run away to escape they would have killed our policemen,” he said, adding that villagers and police subsequently blocked off the road to stop three other cars carrying 616 pieces of rosewood. In the confusion that ensued, “All three drivers escaped from the scene; now they are at large,” Mr Chanta added.
Siem Reap provincial traffic police chief Thorng Sakun said the province had experienced a string of traffic accidents due to illegal loggers who speed through the province at night in an attempt to prevent the seizure of their contraband. He added the cars were often fleeing people who claimed to be journalists in order to extort money from the loggers, who fear that their names might end up in local newspapers.
“We are very concerned with the risks of traffic accidents caused by them,” he said, adding, “At least four people died and some other were wounded because of the chasing of illegal loggers” last year.