Koh Pich – The tragic end to Cambodia’s 2010 Water Festival

As everyone with an interest in Cambodia will know, the last day of this year’s Water Festival, was the last day in the lives of the 456 people who died in a crush on a narrow bridge to an island, Koh Pich bridge, on which major festival events were held. The crowds were thousands strong and happy. The bridge was narrow and uncontrolled. The two way pedestrian throng panicked – officially because the bridge swayed – and hundreds died or were hurt in the press. It was an unmitigated disaster on what is usually one of the happiest nights in the Cambodian year.

All safe at CCF

Although this tragedy happened when, unusually, the majority of CCF’s students and staff were celebrating the festival with their friends and families, it is an enormous relief to be able to tell you that none of the students at CCF or their immediate families or CCF’s staff were among those killed or injured. There were close shaves – one boy had to leap from the bridge – and others lost friends or neighbors. The accompanying photo was taken by a CCF staff member almost exactly 24 hours earlier. His group saw the press on that night and, wisely, prioritized safety over time, and backtracked to the other, wider and safer crossing.

There is nothing good to say about the Koh Pich event. Hundreds of young and unfulfilled lives were extinguished and hundreds of families across the city and country were needlessly deprived of people they loved. It is our fervent hope that no-one ever experiences anything like this ever again.


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