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Water Festival Not All Smooth Sailing

An 8-year-old boy drowned on the first day of the Water Festival, while five boats were sunk after the first two days of races, leaving two competitors injured.

According to witness accounts reported to police, the boy was trying to collect bottles and empty cans that had been discarded at the Tonle Sap river’s edge on Saturday, when he was swept away by the river’s current and then submerged under the Royal Palace’s boat.

Phnom Penh deputy police chief Pen Rath said authorities were still searching for the victim’s body.

“He disappeared on Saturday about noon near the Royal Palace’s parade, at the Water Festival ceremony, while he was swimming to collect the empty bottles and cans for sale,” he said.

He says the Water Festival attracts at least 100 children who swim in the river to collect rubbish for money every year, and that the police “have to prevent them from entry into the sites”.

He added that this year more police have been stationed along the river to prevent children from entering the water.

Meanwhile, five boats were sunk on the first two days of racing – two from a crash, and three from capsizing – which resulted in two injuries, one of which authorities said was serious.

Source: Phnom Penh Post

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