Don't Share Boat Tragedy Images: UNICEF

This photo shows rescue operation in Leuk Dek district. Photo: Police Commissariat Of Kandal Province

PHNOM PENH – UNICEF in Cambodia has urged the public to refrain from sharing graphic pictures or videos after ten students died when their overloaded boat capsized in Kandal province.

The victims, aged between 13 and 14, were returning home after studies in the early evening of Oct. 13.  The boat, with 15 people aboard, sank in the Mekong river at Koh Chamroeun village of Kampong Phnom commune.

Ten were confirmed dead. Four survivors, including the two crew members, have been found and rescuers are searching for the last remaining student.

Photos and videos of those who perished and of the scene in Leuk dek district were widely shared on social media. Videos, apparently containing interviews of survivors, were also disseminated.

“We ask that members of the public refrain from posting or forwarding images and videos showing this unfortunate incident, as this may further negatively impact children, victims' families, and their loved ones,” UNICEF in Cambodia wrote on its Facebook page.

The agency said it was saddened and shocked by the loss of children’s lives in the disaster, sending heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the families who lost loved ones and those whose children were missing.

Leuk Dek police chief Am Thou said that before the incident, the students were on the front of the boat. The operator asked them to move to the back when water splashed into the boat.

“They might have panicked and the boat sank,” Thou said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed all relevant authorities to continue with the search and provide timely assistance to the families of the dead and survivors.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families who lost their children in the sinking of a boat carrying students from school to home in Kampong Phnom commune, Leuk Dek district, Kandal province,” he wrote on Facebook.

He also urged people living along the river to be more vigilant during this flood season.

The rescue operation was carried out by a joint force from the National Committee for Disaster Management, led by Secretary-General Kim Virak and  Kandal Provincial Police Commissioner Chhoeun Sochet.

Kandal Provincial Police blamed overcrowding and said there were no life jackets aboard.

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