Work Continues to Recover Sunken Barge

Kompong Cham provincial officials Monday were continuing efforts to recover a sunken barge that capsized last week, drowning four workers.

The privately owned barge carried a crane, a bulldozer, and several tons of gravel. Authorities were hoping to retrieve as much of the wreckage as possible from the site in Tbong Khmum district, where it sank, Kompong Cham Second Deputy Governor Mao Phirun said.

The barge was carrying its car­go on the Mekong last Tuesday when it sunk at about 9:30 am, Deputy Chief of Provincial Police  Sek Thoeun said. Workers had overloaded the vessel, and as it crept along the swollen river, it began to list, Sek Thoeun said.

It shifted too far, and water began pouring in, Sek Thoeun said. The barge went down in minutes, he added.

Two days later, authorities recovered the bodies of four men floating in the Mekong River, Sek Thoeun said. He identified the dead, all workers on the sunken barge, as Sun Soklay, 25, Chhean Sroh, 23, Chhean Kong, 17, and Sok Se, 23.

Two other workers survived,  Sek Thoeun said. Police were able to pull them from the river after the barge went down.

The sinking was at least the second fatal shipping incident in Cambodia’s flooded waters in as many weeks. On Oct 2, eight women out for a pleasure trip on the Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap province drowned when too many revelers rushed to one side of the boat to splash passengers on a passing pleasure cruise.

The lake’s current, quickened by heavy rains, swept the young women—who were not good swimmers—under the water.

Auth­orities arrested that boat’s owner, Sar Sovan, 36, in connection with the drownings.

The investigation continues into the barge’s sinking, Sek Thoeun said.


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