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City Prepares Ceremony in Remembrance of Bridge Stampede Victims

Cambodians walk through piles of shoes on a newly-built bridge where the worst stampede in their country's modern history happened, killing at least 345 people on Monday, November 22, 2010.
PHNOM PENH - Phnom Penh will hold a ceremony Nov. 22 in remembrance of the victims who died during a Water Festival stampede in 2011.

More than 350 people died in the stampede, which took place on a bridge crowded with panicked festival-goers.

The city will invite 108 monks to hold a religious ceremony honoring the victims, said Long Dimong, a spokesman for the municipal government.

At least 353 people died and another 480 were injured when revelers overcrowded the Diamond Island bridge, linking the main city to a small island on an adjacent river. Some remain disabled to this day.

Critics say city authorities and police failed to properly manage the crowds at the festival, which brings millions of people to the city, but a governmental investigative committee found no wrongdoing on the part of authorities.

The festival has been canceled every year since the incident.

Opposition officials say they too will hold a ceremony to honor the dead.

“We very much regret that event, where hundreds of people were killed,” said Ngem Ponchrith, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. “The leaders should be held responsible.”