Cambodian-Americans gathered at their embassy in Washington on Wednesday to pay their respects to those who died in Monday’s bridge tragedy.
Though none had relatives among the 347 dead from the Diamond Bridge stampede that has shocked the country, many wept openly at the incident.
“I feel deeply sad,” said Keo Tom, the main organizer of the gathering. “I am really sorry that there was such a horrible tragedy, and it has never happened before. We are so touched that we have to be here today to pay our respect to their souls.”
“I am so sorry, and it is not me alone, but many other Cambodian-Americans are also sad for such a tragedy,” said Yap Kimtung, president of the Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.
Organizers will also hold a religious ceremony at a local temple to pray for the dead, who were trammeled Monday night on a crowded bridge following Water Festival celebrations.
The Cambodian Education Excellence Foundation will create scholarships for children whose parents died at the bridge, the foundation’s president, Kchao Sarang, said.
The Cambodian Embassy made an appeal for aid.
“There is still time for people to donate funds to support the victims,” Cambodian Ambassador Hem Heng told VOA Khmer. “If they don’t have the means to send it to Cambodia, the embassy will help facilitate that.”