Three Men, Two Rescuers Suffocate in Deep Bat Cave

Five men have died in a deep cave in Banteay Meanchey pro­vince after apparently suffocating—two of them reportedly while trying to re­scue the other three, a police official said Thurs­day.

In a 10-meter-deep burrow in Thma Puok district, Ing Yi, 38, Lin Chhiv, 20, and Eik Phoeuk, 38, likely suffocated while hunting for bats, Banteay Meanchey province Military Police Chief Rath Sreing said.

The following day, Khun Khmoa, 38, and Yun Han, 27, died in the same cave during a res­cue operation, Rath Sreing said. The rescue had been hampered by heavy rains and nightfall, the chief added.

The three bat-hunters and a 17-year-old boy had gone out looking for vines on the mountain near their Preah Chhor village homes, police said.

The three men went inside the cave to try to smoke the bats out of the cave while the the boy stayed outside passing firewood into the cave. He planned to catch a few bats for the group to use as food.

When the three men did not surface from the cave and failed to respond to the boy’s calls, the boy sought help from relatives in the village. The boy at first believed that the men had been bitten by a snake or some kind of animal, police said.

The villagers waited overnight and when the sun rose, Khun Khmoa and Yun Han went inside the cave to recover the men.

The first three men probably lighted a fire in the cave, cutting off their oxygen, Rath Sreing said.

“We are very sorry to hear about our villagers’ ignorance,” Rath Sreing said.

All five bodies remained in the cave Thursday, because the stench of the rotting corpses further reduced the oxygen supply, Rath Sreing said.

The families of the five dead men are planning to hold funerals at the mouth of the cavern, Rath Sreing said.

 

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