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Families Deal With Shock of Diamond Bridge Tragedy

  • Men Kimseng
  • VOA Khmer

Chea Channy, far right, who was also on the bridge, escaped with other siblings. She spoke along with other family members on a special edition of “Hello VOA” Wednesday.

Chea Channy, far right, who was also on the bridge, escaped with other siblings. She spoke along with other family members on a special edition of “Hello VOA” Wednesday.

Family members who lost loved ones in last week's Diamond Bridge stampede say they have been traumatized by the event, which claimed at least 351 lives.

“I'm still in shock,” said Chea Channy, whose 45-year-old father died on the bridge. “Even when I sleep, I still hear their voices calling for help in my ears. I don't know when I'll forget this.”

Chea Channy, who was also on the bridge, escaped with other siblings. She spoke along with other family members on a special edition of “Hello VOA” Wednesday.

The Nov. 22 bridge tragedy shocked the nation and led to an outpouring of donations and sympathy. No one has been singled out for responsibility, in what Prime Minister Hun Sen called an accident without blame.

Family members will receive up to $12,000 each from different organizations, the government, the owners of Diamond Island, and others. But the full reality of the disaster had yet to sink in for some.

Hun Ratha, a monk, lost his 19-year-old brother, Vichet, on the bridge. Vichet had been the breadwinner, and his mother, who was working abroad, has come back to mourn him.

“She is still in great shock and finds it hard to bear the fact that her son has died,” Hun Ratha said.

But he offered some comfort to other victims: “People will eventually die. Therefore, we should learn to calm our feelings of shock. Those who died did not know in advance there would be danger awaiting them. If they had, they would not have gone there. They are now at peace.”

Some family members suggested keeping the bridge as a memorial for victims and not reopening it for public use.

“It would be good if the government kept this bridge just as a memory of the dead victims, because it is very scary to cross it again,” Chea Channy said. “As for me I dare not go there to see it again. I am afraid. The incident was too bad.”

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