Kulen district police in Preah Vihear province said on March 9 that three boys had drowned in a pond while they were returning from tending cattle near Srayong Secondary High School.
Kim Saroeun, the district deputy police chief in charge of the criminal division, told The Post that the boys – Chet Phal, 10; Sok Chetra, 9; and Phat Chanbot, 6 – came from Srayong Cheurng village in Srayong commune. They had bathed in a pond and drowned at about 12pm on March 8.
“We were so saddened to see their parents retrieve the bodies from the pond. They hugged the bodies and cried.
“The death of the three boys was caused by negligence on the part of their parents because they had allowed their children to bathe in the pond without the supervision of an adult,” he said.
Concerning the case, 33-year-old Ler Sophat who is the father of Phat Chanbot, told The Post that on the morning of the incident, his son had led cattle to hitching posts behind Srayong Secondary High School where they could graze. Having had lunch, he had sent his other son, Phat Phanit, to also tend to the cattle.
“I sent my first son to tend to the cattle. There has never been a problem because from my house to the hitching posts behind the school is no more than 500m,” he said.
He added that 30 minutes later, Phanit had returned in tears and broke the news that Chanbot, Phal and Chetra had drowned.
The man and his wife then ran to the scene and cried for help from the neighbours. However, by the time they reached the pond and searched the area, the boys had already died.
According to a report from commune police and seen by The Post on March 9, the first two boys had met the other boys while on the way to the hitching posts. While returning home, they decided to bathe in the pond. However, they slipped into deep water where the sides were steep and three of them had drowned.
The report said: “This pond is 3m deep with steep sides. It is easy to slip into the deep water, posing a risk to life if those who bathe in the pond don’t know how to swim.”