Cambodia Stampede Kills Hundreds

Cambodia Stampede Kills Hundreds: At least 349 people were killed in a stampede in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh late Monday during the last hour of the last day of Cambodia’s Water Festival. Witnesses in the capital said the stampede began Monday night when people panicked in a dense crowd on a small island close to the shore of the Bassac River.

Many people at the sides jumped into the river to escape the stampede, and as day broke, searchers began looking for anybody who might have drowned.

Azuriel provides an eyewitness account of what happened during that tragic night:

…we were just about to cross back to the mainland from the island when the stampede started, and police started cordoning the area off ... total chaos' prolly the best way to describe it ...

spent most of my 4 hours trying to help out, inclusing performing CPR on 4 girls that got fished out of the river ... unfortunately only managed to revive 2 of them ... Sad( ... of the other 2, only 1 had a pulse when they rushed her to hospital, but nevertheless, hope the ambulance crews managed to do more than my meagre first aid skills ...

From talking to the locals, some of the security and event management staff, and first-hand experience, I gather the following chain of events occurred; not sure these events occurred in this order though, but it's close:
- about 30-odd people were electrocuted (few direct deaths, but many losing consciousness, suffering severe burns) from contact with the metal guard rails on either side of the bridge ...
- about a dozen people fainted from the crush of the crowd, heat exhaustion, dehydration, or a combination of these, and fell underfoot ...
- Crowd panicked from the electrocutions and surged into a stampede; More people tripped or got pushed over, and got trampled underfoot ...
- People started jumping off the bridge into the river below to escape the mob; some were electrocuted climbing over the railings; some died from jumping into shallow water, or missing the water altogether, and landing on the concrete escarpments. One of the girls I performed CPR on had a nasty gash stretching from her collarbone down to just past her belly button ... not bleeding too badly, but was still a pain to patch up half-decently ...
- Curious onlookers surged towards the bridge from both ends trying to find out what was going on. POLICE WERE VERY FORCEFULLY PUSHING BYSTANDERS BACK, USING FISTS, BATONS, PISTOLS, AND PIECES OF METAL PIPING!!! ==>> AND IN PARTICULAR, SHAME SHAME SHAME ON THE BIG BLACK GUY WITH THE AMERICAN ACCENT THAT PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED MY WIFE AND I, NOT ONCE BUT TWICE: WHEN I TRACK DOWN YOUR DETAILS, I'LL BE USING ALL MY POLICE AND LEGAL CONTACTS TO PRESS CHARGES!! <<== Wish more foreigners could've put their energies into helping the wounded, as opposed to bashing up on the innocent bystanders ...

- Some police near the Koh Pich end of the bridge fired warning shops to try to disperse the crowd, but it only served to set off a 2nd panic, since no-one at that stage knew who was shooting, nor at who or what ...

- The crowd was warned to stay away from the metal guard rails along the easter edge of Koh Pich, for fear of electrocution. Around the same time, all the neon lights on the bridge were turned off, along with most of the street lamps along the eastern shore of the island.

As of 3am on Tuesday morning, the official death toll sits at 332 deaths, and 329 injured ... a moment of silence please ... ironically, the bayon TV concert a couple of hundred metres away blasted on throughout all of this ... ... ...

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