Updated: At Least 10 Schoolchildren Dead After Boat Sinks on Commute

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A rescue boat searching for the missing children on Thursday night. (Kandal Provincial Police)
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UPDATED — Ten children have been found dead and one is still missing after a tragic boat sinking in Kandal province.

Loeuk Dek district deputy police chief Dim Samrith said Friday morning that the incident happened around 7 p.m. Thursday in Kampong Phnom commune.

Students who live on Chamroeun island in the river were coming home from part-time English classes on the other riverbank and had reached about 50 meters from shore when the boat sank, Samrith said.

At the time of the incident, the weather was normal, there was no wind and no waves, Samrith said.

“It was heavy at the front as more students got on [the bow],” he said. “When they saw it was close to the bank, they tended to rush to the front and the boat sank.”

The river is about 500-600 meters wide, and informal boat operators carried people between riverbanks, he said.

The boat that sank was old and did not have floats or life vests, he said.

Fifteen people in all were on the boat, including the driver — who was 15 years old — and an assistant, aged 23.

As of the morning, eight children had been found dead, three were missing, and four were rescued alive, including both the driver and assistant, he said.

Authorities were continuing to look for the missing three using 20 boats with more than 100 personnel, he said.

“This will be remembered in Loeuk Dek district’s history. … We feel very regretful. Such an incident should not have happened.”

Most years, the river can get shallow enough for people to drive through, but this year water levels have been high, he added.

Loeuk Dek district police chief Am Thou said late afternoon that two further children had been found dead, and a search was ongoing for the last missing student.

Some bodies had already been cremated, Thou said.

The children are mostly aged 12-14.

Updated at 5:23 p.m. with update on two further children found.

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