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Festival Stampede Tragedy Shocks Cambodians in US

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.

Cambodians in the US were shocked to see hundreds of their countrymen killed in the annual Water Festival which ended on Monday.

Authorities have reported that 345 were killed and 410 others were wounded in a stampede stemming from a traffic jam on a bridge to Phnom Penh Koh Pich resort area.

“What’s happening in Cambodia is nothing, but shocking and sorrowful,” a resident of Lowell who identified himself as Ban told VOA Khmer. “It has never happened in our history where a festival turns into a tragedy.”

A VOA reporter who was in Lowell, Mass. said the Cambodian Americans got together to watch a live television coverage as the situation unfolded.

“I am terribly saddened that this happened,” said Ros Vong, executive director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell.

Some feared that their relatives could be among the dead, but there was no way to call home yet.