At least 347 killed in stampede during water festival in Cambodia

42438.jpegCambodia has set up an inquiry to determine the cause of a stampede on a bridge last night that killed at least 347 people during an annual water festival which draws more than a million rural residents to the capital.

"We never had this kind of tragedy before," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said by phone from Phnom Penh. "We call for all eyewitnesses and people who were wounded to testify about what happened," BusinessWeek reports.

The disaster occurred when a crowd attending a concert on an artificial island to celebrate the end of the rainy season returned to the mainland across a bridge roughly 30 yards wide and 300 yards long.

As the human crush intensified, some people suffocated where they stood; others tried to jump over the side. But many couldn't swim and reportedly drowned, while others fell onto the concrete below and were killed or badly injured.

Prime Minister Hun Sen called for an investigation into the causes of the stampede and announced a national day of mourning Thursday. The government said it would pay the families of each dead victim $1,250 for funeral expenses and give each injured person $250, Los Angeles Times reports.


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