November 23, 2010
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What should have been a celebratory night, ended in tragedy. At least
351 people were killed on Monday, near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, while
trying to leave a festival venue.
NBC explains what led to the stampede.
REPORTER: "Millions of people had descended on the city, for the annual
three-day water festival, celebrating the end of the rainy season.
Eyewitnesses say there was panic, as a vast crowd pressed across a small
bridge, back into Phnom Penh from a nearby island, where they'd been
attending a concert."
What exactly led to that panic is unclear, and the Cambodian government
has launched an investigation to determine the cause. The Guardian looks
at some of the speculations.
"Some at the scene yesterday said the crush started when speculation
swept the tightly packed crowd that the bridge was about to collapse.
... Others said the panic was caused by the multi-coloured lights strung
from the suspension ropes sparking, a rumour of food poisoning or a gang
of youths robbing people in the crowd."
The Phnom Penh Post reports, as of Tuesday afternoon, both the
government and the police have put the death toll at different numbers.
"Minister of Health ... said 351 people had died and 395 were injured.
... [But] Unconfirmed reports from police sources put the death toll at
as many as 378 and 755 injured in the disaster..."
A Voice of America report focuses on the aftermath of the stampede, as
surviving family members take care of the bodies of their loved ones.
REPORTER: "The government is now helping families remove the bodies of
loved ones from the hospital."
OFFICIAL: "Until now, we have found the identities of the victims 50
percent to 60 percent. And those who have found their lost loved ones,
we have orange coffins for them, and transport the bodies to their
provinces, where the provincial governor will be responsible for holding
the traditional Buddhist cremation."
A blog on the Economist suggests the stampede is a symbol of the
country's more fundamental problems.
"In many ways, the horror on the bridge can be seen to represent an
outgrowth of ... all that ails the country's civic life: a mixture of
endemic corruption, poor planning and an indolent attitude towards rules
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