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Cambodia commemorates 1st anniversary of tragic stampede

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) — Cambodia held a Buddhist ceremony on Tuesday to commemorate the first anniversary for the 353 people who died during the stampede last year at the Diamond bridge.

Meanwhile, a memorial monument for the dead, which is situated just about five meters northwest of the tragic bridge, was inaugurated. Names of each victim are inscribed on the wall of the stupa.

The ceremony was presided over by the permanent Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An and the Governor of Phnom Penh Kep Chuk Tema, and attended by more than 1,000 people.

Some 353 Buddhist monks were invited to chant in the ceremony, while family members of the stampede victims had laid flowers and lit incense sticks in Buddhism belief to dedicate to the souls of the dead to rest in peace and to reincarnate in a better life.

The stupa, designed in the style of the Angkorian Bayon temple, bears four faces. The construction began in August, costing 120, 000 U.S. dollars.

“The commemoration and the stupa are to express our memory and sympathy to the victims in the stampede, this is the way we keep them in our minds and share condolences with the victims’ families, ” said Kep Chuk Tema.

Chek Leang Ky, mother of a 19-year-old boy who died in last year’s stampede, said she still felt very sad when she came and see the bridge and the stupa.

“I miss my son very much, he came to study in Phnom Penh and took chance to visit the (Water) Festival and died in the stampede, ” she said with a sobbing emotion. “It’s still unbelievable to me that a short and small bridge like this had killed hundreds of people.”

Cambodia’s Water Festival is the largest annual festival in the Southeast Asian nation, around three million Cambodians, especially those from rural areas converged to the city to enjoy the regatta.

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