Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rith Mony bus blaze kills passenger in Battambang

Rith Mony bus blaze kills passenger in Battambang

Firefighters douse a Rith Mony bus with water in Battambang province on Saturday night after a fire broke out leaving one dead and five injured. Photo supplied
Firefighters douse a Rith Mony bus with water in Battambang province on Saturday night after a fire broke out leaving one dead and five injured. Photo supplied

Rith Mony bus blaze kills passenger in Battambang

One man died and five people were injured, three critically, when a Rith Mony bus carrying about 20 passengers burst into flames that swept through the cabin on Saturday night in Battambang’s O’Mal commune, provincial authorities said yesterday.

The charred remains of 42-year-old Banteay Menachey resident Long Thea were only discovered after the flames were extinguished, provincial fire chief Kim Bunthoeun said yesterday. Passengers Chhoeun Sina, 28; Mony Bopha, 3; and Chin Sok Ken, 40, remain in critical condition, while Ou Reaksa, 27, and Chin Kong, 68, sustained minor injuries.

“The [engine] explosion occurred at about 10:20pm . . . The man who died was reportedly asleep. He was burned almost to ash, and we could not even identify his body,” Bunthoeun said.

The Rith Mony bus company was one of four companies threatened with closure in 2013 by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation following a spate of accidents. It told the companies at the time that they were required to have fire extinguishers on board all their vehicles.

Authorities determined that Saturday’s fire began when an electrical circuit malfunctioned. Passengers on the bus said the fire started in the front of the bus where the driver, Ham Soun, was seated, and that he and his assistant fled the scene.

The fire completely consumed the bus and a motorbike that was inside.

Reaksa, one of the injured passengers, said the electricity went out suddenly as smoke began pouring from the front of the vehicle. The smoke choked the passengers, causing them to rush towards the rear exit, but the door was stuck, Reaksa explained.

“I used my elbow to hit the window two times and my head to break the window so I could stick my head out of the bus to breathe,” Reaksa said. “Once I could breathe, I used my head and shoulders to completely break the window, and then I fell out of the bus onto the ground.”

With all of their belongings, including their mobile phones, engulfed in flames, authorities were alerted to the situation only after a motorbike driver arrived at a police station around 6 kilometres from the explosion, Bunthoeun said.

Police only arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the initial explosion, with an ambulance arriving another hour after that.

The dead man’s family came to collect his remains, while the other victims are being treated at a local hospital, Sam Rith Oeurn, a Battambang city police officer said.

The bus company’s insurance firm is now looking into compensation for the victims, according to Pang Marin, a manager with Rith Mony. He added that the company is working to ensure such electrical problems will not occur again.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior