x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Cambodia PM says no one responsible for stampede

Cambodia's prime minister said today no state officials were to blame for a stampede last week that killed 351 people and ruled out resignations in the aftermath of the country's worst tragedy in three decades.

Cambodia's prime minister said today no state officials were to blame for a stampede last week that killed 351 people and ruled out resignations in the aftermath of the country's worst tragedy in three decades.

Long-serving premier Hun Sen said calls for senior figures within the government and security forces to step down were politically motivated to serve opposition parties, but he said mistakes had been made and the situation was badly handled.

"No one will resign from their positions after what happened," Mr Hun Sen said during the opening of a new government building in the capital, Phnom Penh.

"The incident happened because of carelessness and we didn't expect this thing to happen," he added. "The biggest mistake was that we had not fully understood the situation."

The stampede caused the biggest loss of life in Cambodia since the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge's regime's four-year reign of terror in the late 1970s, during which an estimated 1.7 million people were executed or died of starvation or disease.

The accident happened late on Monday last week when hoards of people celebrating an annual Water Festival on a man-made entertainment island crossed a narrow bridge at the same time. For some reason, the crowd suddenly panicked.