More than three hundred thirty people are dead and hundreds more injured after a stampede during a water festival in Cambodia’s capital. The nation’s prime minister is describing the deaths as the biggest tragedy since the communist reign of terror in the nineteen seventies. Thousands converged on Diamond Island Monday night for a concert celebrating the end of the rainy season. Witnesses and officials say the crowd began to panic when several people fell unconscious, setting off a rush to the bridge that leads off the island. Hundreds were either crushed under foot or fell into the river. Ambulances raced back and forth between the river and the hospitals for several hours, filling the city’s main medical facilities well beyond capacity.
The country has an under-developed health system, and hospitals are barely able to cope with daily medical demands – and that’s caused concerns that some of those that were badly injured may not get the treatment they need. Meanwhile crews are back at the festival site searching for anyone who may have drowned. Thursday has been declared a national day of mourning throughout Cambodia.