PHNOM PENH – The Catholic Church in Cambodia is to offer a special Mass for victims of a bridge stampede during the Water Festival on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh.

The chaos on Nov 22 killed 375 and injured 755 people, and is regarded as the biggest tragedy for Cambodians since the Pol Pot regime, said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The government announced it will give 5 million riel (S$1,600) to each family of the dead for transporting the bodies. It also marked Nov 25 as a national day of mourning.

The Catholic Church said it will offer a special Mass on the same day for the dead at Psataught Church in the capital.

Caritas Cambodia is on standby to carry out further help, said Sok Sakhan, the Church charity body’s disaster management officer, noting the injured are being treated by the government and various hospitals.

Chhem Chhean, a 25-year-old victim, said all she remembered amid the concerts, boat races and
fireworks was that people started pushing each other to get away from the bridge.

The cause of the tragedy is unclear.

Each year numerous Cambodians gather at the Water Festival on Diamond Island which is located at the confluence of Cambodia’s four main rivers in Phnom Penh.


Photo: Relatives light incense sticks in front of the coffins of stampede victims in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Rescuers trawled a muddy river for more bodies as Cambodia prepared for a day of mourning. CNS photo

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