One Russian tourist died instantly and 46 other passengers – largely foreigners – were injured and rushed to hospital yesterday afternoon when a tourist bus spun off the road and slammed into a house while en route from Sihanoukville to a destination in Koh Kong, officials said.
“All 46 passengers – 40 foreigners and six Cambodians – were injured, and a 23-year-old Russian woman among them died at the scene,” Koh Kong traffic office chief Uk Sopha said yesterday, adding that the bus also seriously injured one occupant of the house when the vehicle collided with the dwelling and overturned.
Authorities believe the bus was struck by a punctured tire, shortly after crossing Tatai Bridge in Koh Kong’s Koh Kong district at 1:25pm yesterday. As the bus was going downhill, the burst tyre rocked the bus off balance due to the speed it had collected, authorities said.
The Paramount Bus Company bus driver fled the scene of the accident and escaped into the nearby forest, Uk Sopha, an eyewitnesses recounted.
All passengers and the injured villager were immediately taken from the scene to Koh Kong provincial hospital for treatment.
Deputy director of Koh Kong’s tourism department Suon Samit said that among them, six to seven were so critically injured they would need to be rushed to hospital in Phnom Penh last night.
“One Cambodian girl who is about 5 years old had her entire left arm amputated from the shoulder,” Suon Samit said.
“Between six and seven have suffered broken arms and legs and serious head injuries.”
Suon Samit said there was chaos at the accident site and chaos in the provincial hospital, which was not expecting so many wounded people requiring urgent treatment.
“There was a person who died at the traffic accident, but I did not have time to check the body, because I needed to pay attention to all those who were injured,” he said.
Passengers had all purchased their bus tickets from Rith Mony bus company, however Rith Mony Koh Kong branch owner Mab Rithmony, denied all responsibility.
“The company had sold the tickets to customers, but as there were too many customers that day, they were transferred to the bus of the Paramount Bus Company,” he said.
Chan Thid, a ticket seller for Paramount Bus Company in Preah Sihanouk province, said that Paramount was responsible for the traffic accident even though customers had Rith Mony tickets.
“The bosses of the two companies are brothers, and they are American-Cambodians,” Chan Thid said.
“It is normal that the two companies transferred customers to each other, but the traffic accident was under the management of Paramount Company,” he said.
“Compensation for the passengers is up to the evaluation of the insurance company.”
Caminco Insurance Company representatives inspected the accident site yesterday to evaluate damages, authorities said.
The Russian Embassy declined to comment outside of office hours.
Ministry of Tourism representatives did not respond to questions.