S’Ville Lifeguards: We Have No Equipment

Even as meteorology officials an­­nounced they will participate in a two-day workshop in Beijing on de­veloping advanced tsunami warn­ing systems, Sihanoukville po­lice said Thursday they remain unable to save imperiled swimmers due to a lack of basic lifesaving equipment.

Seth Vannareth, director of the meteorology department at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said the Jan 25 to Jan 26 meeting in China is important because a tsunami warning system should be set up that protects Cambodia.

Meanwhile in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s top beach destination, authorities lack the basic lifesaving equipment to save even beach-goers, police Chief Daung Saroeun said. Police can only post signs warning people not to swim in dangerous areas.

“We don’t have any speedboat to save swimmers,” Daung Sa­roeun said. “If swimmers face  danger, we have nothing to help.”

He said he had requested a speedboat from the Ministry of In­terior, but the ministry said it did not have funds to supply one.

Chan Seng, a tourist police officer stationed in O’Chheuteal Beach, said Thursday that at least three people drowned in the sea during the 2004 rainy season.

“This is very difficult to work. I don’t know where to contact [some­one] to get a speedboat,” he said. “We have nothing to protect tourists.”

Besides the lack of equipment, Chan Seng said tourist police officers also face financial constraints. “We get paid 1,000 riel [about $0.25] a day. This is never enough,” he said.


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