More then 180 people died in a stampede at a water festival in Phnom Penh tonight, according to Cambodia’s prime minister.
Hundreds more were hurt at the event, on a small island, as the crowd panicked and pushed over a bridge to the mainland. Authorities had estimated that more than 2 million people could descend on the capital for the three-day event, whose main attraction is a traditional boat race along the Tonlé Sap river.
The last race ended in the early evening. Panic broke out later on Koh Pich island, where a concert was being held. So Cheata, a soft drinks vendor, said the trouble began when 10 people in the crowd fell unconscious. She said that set off a panic, which then turned into a stampede in which many people were trampled.
Part of the crowd huddled on to a bridge, which jammed solid, causing people to fall under others or off the bridge. So Cheata said she saw hundreds of injured people lying on the ground afterwards.
An official at Calmette hospital, said 17 bodies had been brought there from the riverside. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Police and other official services were unable to provide more details, saying they were too busy attending to the injured.
Cambodia is one of the region’s poorer countries and has an underdeveloped health system, with hospitals barely able to cope with daily demand.