The bodies of two Cambodia-Laos border soldiers were found on Friday morning in Stung Treng province, after the men were swept away by fast-flowing waters when a temporary bridge they were crossing collapsed on Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, Siem Pang district police chief Chim En identified the soldiers as Sok Sovanndy, 22 and Phy Nidali, 21.
The two artillery soldiers, under the command of Military Region 1, were stationed in Siem Pang district, En’s post said.
Sovanndy’s body was found first – at 5:40am, hundreds of metres away from the collapsed bridge – and Nidali’s was discovered at 8:20am, more than 100m from where the men and their motorbike plummeted into the rain-swelled stream in Siem Pang district’s Thma Keo commune, the post said.
En told The Post on Sunday that the soldiers’ bodies had been handed over to their families to conduct funeral rites in their hometown in Kampot province.
“We spent 48 hours looking for the bodies and, as far as I know, the regional military unit’s commander led his subordinates in offering condolences to the families and contributed some money towards each victim’s funeral expenses,” he said.
The bridge collapsed after torrential rains caused the stream below to flow so strongly that it suddenly overwhelmed its wooden and soil structure at exactly the moment the two men were crossing on their motorbike.
Others had not dared to cross the bridge when they saw the surging waters flowing so strongly, En said.
But Nidali was determined to get his colleague Sovanndy to hospital because he was suffering from malaria and needed urgent attention.
“While Nidali couldn’t swim, Sovanndy was able to but it seems he was too weak to do so due to the malaria,” En said.
A video capturing the incident showed that the 10m-long bridge was constructed from round logs with a metre-high layer of compacted soil on top of the timber.
In the video, the bridge suddenly collapsed when the two soldiers were more than halfway across.
Strung Treng provincial police chief Mao Dara told The Post on Thursday that a new concrete bridge, being constructed just metres from the collapsed temporary bridge, was about 90 per cent complete.
The police had been hindered in their search and rescue efforts by the strength of the water, which flowed into the Mekong River, he said.
Not many people lived in the area, Dara said, with the bridge primarily used by border soldiers to access their station.