Four people, including a child, died when an overloaded tourist boat sank in Kampot province on Monday, local officials said.
While on a firefly-watching trip, the boat ran aground on a submerged sandbar at about 9 pm.
The bodies of three women and a young child were recovered from the river by Tuesday afternoon, according to Mao Chanmathurith, provincial police chief.
He added that the boat was built to carry up to 60 people but was carrying as many as 80 when it sank.
“The boat smashed into a mound of sand at the bottom of the river, which caused it to keel over and crack,” he said. “When the tourists realised that the boat was sinking, they began to freak out and jump into the water.”
He added that the authorities had detained the owner of the boat for questioning and suspended all tourist boat operations in the area.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace, said lax enforcement of waterway regulations had caused the tragedy.
“The authorities should not only advise, but also place restrictions on the boat owners,” he said. “Such incidents should never happen because it will affect tourism.”
Chanmathurith said that police often reminded boat operators to limit the number of passengers allowed on board and promised to more firmly enforce the rules in future.
The incident followed another sinking, in Phnom Penh on Friday, in which two people died.