Three teenage girls drowned while swimming in a canal as they tended their families’ buffaloes in Prey Veng province’s Svay Anthor district on Tuesday, police said Wednesday.
Meang Teang, Mao Thida and At Rathy, all 13 years old, were tending their families’ stock with three other children from Pean Rong commune’s Andoung Thmar village when they took a break to swim in a nearby canal, said commune police chief Thuon Samoeurn.
“After the villagers brought the victims back to the house we went there and concluded they had all died by drowning,” he said.
Five of the six children were swimming in the shallow part of the irrigation canal when one started to struggle, said Pean Rong commune councilor Pol Ang.
“One of the girls got into trouble and two more tried to help but they couldn’t swim so the three all drowned on the spot,” he said.
“The two other girls realized they would also drown if they tried to help, so they quickly jumped out of the water while the boy, aged 10, ran for help.”
Pean Rong commune chief Seum Sokhon said that she was wary of the dangers posed by waterways during the rainy season, and that she had told residents of her commune to be cautious.
“I try to warn the villagers to make sure their children are safe while tending the buffalo in the field during rainy season,” she said.
“The children tried to run for help but by the time they reached the village, [the girls] had already drowned.”
In a report released last year, Unicef said that drowning is a leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years old in Cambodia, Thailand and Bangladesh.
This year, four children drowned in June in Komopong Cham province while trying to cross a stream, three children drowned in Koh Kong province in April while playing in a river, and in Banteay Meanchey in March, three children drowned while playing in a pond at a pagoda.