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Boy drowns as riverbank collapses

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The family of a schoolboy who disappeared after a riverbank collapsed on Monday in Kandal province pray where the incident happened. Pha Lina

Boy drowns as riverbank collapses

A schoolboy has disappeared, while three of his classmates narrowly escaped drowning, as a riverbank collapsed on Monday in Mok Kampoul district’s Samaki village in Kandal province.

Samaki village chief Phuon Oun told The Post on Tuesday that during their school break on Monday morning, four school boys came to play at a riverbank on the Mekong which then collapsed with them standing on it. Three of the boys emerged from the water, but one, Khorn Mengheng, 14, did not.

The three surviving boys rushed ashore to seek help but Mengheng remains missing.

“When they left school, they came to play near the riverbank despite teachers, parents and authorities repeatedly telling them not to do so. We’ve never experienced a riverbank collapse in this village before,” Oun said.

Prek Dambang Secondary School principal Ouch Vannal said the four boys – students at his school – jumped on the cracked riverbank causing it to fall into the river.

“The riverbank was already cracked and it was going to collapse, so when they played and jumped there it just slid away,” he said.

He added that the surviving students said Mengheng emerged and screamed for help, but in a state of shock, they were unable to prevent him from drowning.

Mengheng’s body is yet to be recovered, and his parents prayed for the fast recovery of their son at the site on Tuesday morning.

His father Khon Sokhorn said his son disappeared at around 9am on Monday. “I banned my children from playing in dangerous places. He could swim, but he was very unlucky. I am deeply sad . . . it is sudden and unexpected. He went there without telling me,” said the sobbing father.

Ministry of Mines and Energy sand dredging and riverbank collapse expert Thun Sovandara said he visited the site on Tuesday morning.

“The area is high risk. There is a small island about 300 metres into the river and it sits on four or five layers of sand. When it leans out like that it pushes the water to hit the riverbank."

“The current flows from Kang Meas district’s Sdao commune and other places also experienced a collapse, but they were not so serious,” he said.

He continued that a ministry expert had previously advised local authorities and people to not go near the site because of the high risk of collapse.

“The high-risk area that is vulnerable to riverbank collapse is a 13km stretch from Kang Meas district until Russey Chroy commune in Kandal province,” he said.

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