Sunday, September 27

345 die in stampede

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PHNOM PENH – A STAMPEDE in the Cambodian capital has left at least 345 people dead and hundreds injured after panic erupted at a water festival that had attracted millions of revellers.

People are crushed in a stampede on a bridge in Phnom Penh. --PHOTO: REUTERS

Dozens of ambulances with their sirens blaring raced to the scene of the incident, which occurred late on Monday on a narrow bridge to an island in Phnom Penh where festivities were being held to mark the end of the annual event.

Prime Minister Hun Sen described it as Cambodia’s darkest hour since the Khmer Rouge, whose 1975-1979 rule left up to a quarter of the population dead.

‘This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime,’ Mr Hun Sen said in a live television broadcast, referring to the Khmer Rouge’s late leader.

He said Cambodia would hold a national day of mourning on Thursday. ‘I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims,’ he said. The prime minister said arrangements would be made for the bodies of out-of-town visitors to be sent home.

The stampede left at least 345 people dead and 410 injured, a government spokesman told AFP. ‘Most of the deaths were as a result of suffocation and internal injuries,’ Khieu Kanharith said. — AFP