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Missing boy found dead in Mekong river

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The boy’s mother holds a vigil for her son who drowned in the Mekong river. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The body of a boy in Kandal province who went missing after he and three of his mates slipped and plunged into the Mekong river has been recovered.

A 50-metre portion of the riverbank in Mok Kampol district collapsed on Monday, causing damage to a pagoda’s fence, a home and a stupa.

The boy, identified as Kun Kimheng, was playing nearby the collapsed portion of the riverbank with his friends when all of them slipped and plunged into the river. Three of the boys were rescued by villagers, but one remained missing.

Captain Yearn Sath, chief of the district’s penal police bureau, yesterday said the boy’s body was recovered 200 metres away.

“The body of the boy was handed to his family for a funeral,” Cap Sath said. “Thoughts and prayers are with the family.”

Kith Mengkhun, a school teacher, yesterday said Kimheng’s body was found at about 8am.

“We lost hope for the boy because we thought that he must have gotten swallowed by the river,” Mr Mengkhun said, noting that the school had told students to stay away from the collapsed riverbank.

“We told students not to play near the riverbank because of the danger,” he said. “We don’t know when another collapse would happen.”

Khun Sokhun, the boy’s father, yesterday said villagers attempted to rescue the boys from drowning, but were only able to save his son’s friends.

“Villagers quickly came to help them and find my son, but they were unable to find him,” Mr Sokhun said. “My family pities my son so much – why was he so unlucky in life.”

Sok Chan Borie, a friend of Kimheng, yesterday said he heard Kimheng screaming for help, but no one was able to rescue him.

“We heard him shout for help, but we couldn’t see where he was shouting from,” Chan Borie said. “At the time we were trying to stay afloat and not get swallowed by the river.”

Men Sum, chief of Roka Kong commune, on Monday said the collapse happened at night after water in the river along his commune reached eight metres.

“Local authorities concluded that it was because of natural disaster,” Mr Sum said. “Riverbank collapse occur almost every year here along Mok Kampol district.”

Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, yesterday said 2018 saw the riverbank of the Mekong river collapse 72 times in eight provinces.

Mr Vy said the collapse damaged 20 homes, a health centre, five pagodas and a garden in Kampong Cham province alone.

“It happened in eight provinces with thousands of metres of the riverbank collapsing into the river,” Mr Vy said.

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