Seven Die Retrieving 75 Cents from Cambodian Well

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Cambodian children play near a well in Kompong Cham province in a file photo.
Cambodian children play near a well in Kompong Cham province in a file photo.

Seven people, including three children, died from lack of oxygen after desperately trying to retrieve 3,000 riel (U.S. $0.75) in bills from a well in rural Cambodia, authorities said Monday.

The incident occurred Saturday when an 11-year-old boy climbed into the 5-meter (16-foot) well in Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srey district while attempting to find the money which his father had dropped earlier that day, according to Muy Norn, the district’s acting police chief.

The boy passed out from a lack of oxygen in the well, and when his two elder sisters—aged 13 and 15—tried to help him, they too were stricken, he said.

Four adult neighbors also died while trying to assist the children, while eight others were rescued.

“The water was shallow, but they were killed because there was no oxygen,” Muy Norn said.

“We are very saddened by this event—this is the first tragic incident that has happened in the community,” he said.

He said the boy’s father Tuy Chen, who makes charcoal for a living, was “poor” and that his family could not afford to lose the money.

According to the World Bank, some 20 percent of Cambodia’s nearly 15 million population live in poverty, earning below U.S. $2.00 per day.

Muy Norn said that Tuy Chen had been retrieving water from the well on Saturday morning to use in making his charcoal when he lost the money and a lighter. He had used a ladder to enter the well, but was only able to find his lighter, so he returned home to tell his 13 children that the money was gone.

At 5:00 p.m., his youngest son went to the site and entered the well via the ladder, which had been left there, he said.

Ban on entering wells

Muy Norn said that the villagers had been unaware of the lack of oxygen in the depths of the well and that local authorities have now instituted a ban on entering them.

“Our police officers have advised villagers not to go inside the wells after experiencing this incident. We have warned them to be careful,” he said.

Muy Norn added that the bodies of the seven dead had been cremated on Sunday.

Che Chhan, an older sister of the three siblings, called the incident a “tragedy” that could have been avoided, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.

“Seven people died because of 3,000 riel,” she told AFP.

In a report by the Associated Press, Che Chhan said her youngest brother “thought the amount of money was huge for poor people like us.”

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (3)


from love

Ignorance is blessed, the typical cycle of misery:
1. 13 children born poor, 4 died, with little education assuring the slave labor for the rich
2. insuring the chasm between the rich and the poor
3. guaranteed with the promises of Buddhism, the next life is better, for now accept the poor fate and bottom social class.
The Result is absolute 3rd world economy, an infinite well of slaves for the developed countries. And for the local economy the rich just gets richer and the poor gets poorer in wealth and mental development.

The selfish rich will not share their wealth, the government is the rich's entitlement. The religion is to control the poor. Human cruelty is accepted and forgiven in the tenets of religion.
It is a preventable accident but ignorant people are brain dead with no conscience. It is a sad story...ignorance is deadly.

Jun 04, 2014 02:43 AM

Anonymous Reader

Yes, education is major part of this big problem. You can thank Hun Sen and his corrupt party for this. Education is not their priority. All you have to do is look at the education funding in an annual budget. Where is education funding rank? At the bottom!

Jun 05, 2014 08:52 AM

Anonymous Reader

This is terrible. Of course, Hun Sen would not cry over this because he just doesn't care of his people.

Remember when over 300 people died on the bridge a few years back, and Hun Sen and his wife were crying during ceremony in public? I can assure you, those were FAKE tears Hun Sen and his wife put on display. If he did care, he would have punished those who responsible. Now those dead spirits are haunting Hun Sen and his party today.

Jun 03, 2014 08:01 PM


from Ratanakiri

Mr. Hunsen, keep your own wealth and sell all the remaining land of Cambodia to Vietnam !!!

Jun 03, 2014 09:29 AM





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