Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 April 2015

Cambodia: Panic over swaying bridge set off stampede that killed 350

A crowd of Cambodians are pushed onto a bridge on the last day of celebrations of a water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A crowd of Cambodians are pushed onto a bridge on the last day of celebrations of a water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A crowd of Cambodians are pushed onto a bridge on the last day of celebrations of a water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In this Nov. 23, 2010 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Cambodian police officials examine the bridge where a stampede took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital Monday night, leaving more than 330 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Lei Baisong) ** NO SALES **
An injured Cambodian is carried by visitors after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Cambodian Military Police move the bodies of a stampede victims to a truck in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital Monday night, leaving more than 330 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Lei Baisong) ** NO SALES **
The shoes and belongings of Cambodians, who died in a stampede, cover a bridge in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing over three hundred people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Philip Heijmans)
Cambodian police officers stand behind a barricade at the site where people stampeded during a water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during the festival in the Cambodian capital, leaving over three hundred dead and scores injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Cambodian relatives of a stampede victim cry in front of their sister's body at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital, leaving over three hundred dead and scores injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
A Cambodian woman looks for her missing relative at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital, leaving at least 349 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
An Australian firefighter checks for the pulse of a Cambodian man, who died in a stampede on a bridge in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing over three hundred people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Philip Heijmans)
The bodies and belongings of Cambodians, who died in a stampede, lie on a bridge in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital Monday night, leaving more than 330 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Philip Heijmans)
Cambodians relatives of victims weep at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital, leaving at least 349 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
An Australian firefighter checks for a pulse of a Cambodian man, who died in a stampede, on a bridge in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing over three-hundred people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Philip Heijmans)
Injured visitors seek help after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Injured visitors are helped by police after a stampede onto a bridge during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
An injured visitor is carried by Cambodian police and another visitor after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Injured Cambodian visitors are helped after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Police officers and a fellow visitor assist an injured Cambodian after a stampede onto a bridge at an accident site during the last day of celebrations of the water festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Thousands of people celebrating a water festival on a small island in a Cambodian river stampeded Monday evening, killing many people, a hospital official said. Hundreds more were hurt as the crowd panicked and pushed over the bridge to the mainland. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

An investigation into a stampede that killed hundreds of revellers at a festival in the Cambodian capital has concluded it was set off when a crowded bridge started swaying, local media reported yesterday.

Bayon TV, which serves as a mouthpiece for the government, said that the high-level committee set up to probe the Monday night tragedy found that many of the people on the bridge were from the countryside and unaware that it was normal for a suspension bridge to sway.

In their fear the bridge was collapsing, they tried to run off, the initial report said.

Officials have said that 378 people were killed and at least 755 injured in the stampede, but the TV report amended the number of casualties to 750, of whom 350 died. The reason for the discrepancy in the figures was not immediately clear.

The report said the committee based its conclusion on the cause of the stampede from investigations and testimony of witnesses. It happened when tens of thousands of panicked people tried to flee an island in the Bassac River in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Witnesses have criticised authorities for causing congestion by blocking a second bridge across the river despite the huge crowds that had gathered for the festival, and for a slow and confused emergency response.

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