Hundreds dead in Cambodia stampede
The death toll from a stampede at a Cambodian festival has risen to 378 with hundreds more injured.
Rescuers are trawling a muddy river for more bodies after Monday's disaster, when a panic-stricken crowd of thousands tried to flee over a narrow bridge. Many people were crushed underfoot or fell over its sides into the water.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said total casualties reached over 1,000, with 378 people killed and 755 injured. He said this was not the final count.
The prime minister called it the country's biggest tragedy since the murderous 1970s reign of the Khmer Rouge.
He ordered an investigation into the cause of the stampede and declared Thursday a national day of mourning. Government ministries were ordered to fly the flag at half-mast.
The prime minister said that the government would pay the families of each dead victim £780 for funeral expenses and provide £156 for each injured person. His special adviser Om Yentieng denied some reports that the victims were electrocuted by lighting cables and that the panic was sparked by a mass food poisoning.
Authorities had estimated that more than two million people would descend on Phnom Penh for the three-day water festival, the Bon Om Touk, which marks the end of the rainy season and whose main attraction is traditional boat races along the river.
In this year's event 420 of the long, sleek boats competed, with crews of up to 80 racers each.
The last race ended on Monday evening local time, the last night of the holiday, and the panic started later on Koh Pich - Diamond Island - a long spit of land wedged in a fork in the river where a concert and exhibition were being held.
Soft drink seller So Cheata said the trouble began when about 10 people fell unconscious in the press of the crowd. She said that set off a panic, which then turned into a stampede, with many people caught underfoot.