School ferry sinks on Cambodian Mekong, 14 children dead

PHOTO: A ferry on the Mekong sank, killing 14 children. Parents mourn the victims. (via Heng Sinith)

An overloaded ferry capsized on the Mekong River in Cambodia, killing at least 14 children. The incident took place southeast of the capital city of Phnom Penh on a ferry that was transporting children home from school. The victims were between the ages of 11 and 14 years old.

The wide and long Mekong snakes through Cambodia – as well as China and across old Indochina – as a major water thoroughfare and is dotted with fishing boats, ferries, cruises, and other types of marine vessels. Commuting down the river by boat is very common with millions of people in Cambodia living and working along its banks. In the Kandal province, which lies just about 53 kilometres from Phnom Penh, a regular ferry service brings children to and from their school.

On Thursday, the ferry was overfilled with students returning home from school in the afternoon. With water increasing and more turbulent during the monsoon season currently occurring in Cambodia, more care and safety is needed. The boat lacked life jackets and was filled beyond capacity according to reporting by the Bangkok Post.

Of all the people on the boat, only the two adult ferry operators and two of the students onboard were rescued and confirmed alive. Rescue teams continued to search for one other student missing when the boat sank. Fourteen children did not survive the catastrophe though. The provincial police chief explained in a social media post.

“This case is caused by the boat owner overloading the vessel, carelessness, and there were no life jackets for protection.”

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also took to social media, sending out condolences to families who lost a child. He requested that authorities offer assistance to the families of the children who died on the ferry. He also warned people to practice caution and safety during monsoon season.

“People, especially those living along the river, should be very careful when the flood situation is increasing.”

World News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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