Strict safety rules for Phnom Penh water festival

Boat crews practice for the water festival in Phnom Penh. (Photo by KT/Chor Sokunthea)

PHNOM PENH: Flying of drones has been prohibited and food and balloon sellers told not to use gas-filled cylinders among crowds during the water festival in the Cambodian capital later this week.

The three-day festival starts on Thursday.

City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said: “We are not allowing the use of gas because the safety and security of people is a priority.”

Food sellers could find another way to prepare their food. “We explained this to them and hope they will understand,” he said.

Mr Meas Pheakdey confirmed that drone cameras were also banned.

Authorities expect the water festival to proceed smoothly and safely, according to a report in the .

Festival organisers say 270 boats have registered for the traditional races, up from the 257 boats last year. At night, 14 illuminated boats will be on display.

Touch Naruth, bodyguard unit chief and deputy national police chief, said last week that some roads would be closed from 1pm until midnight to make it easier to walk around at the festival.

Vehicles will be banned from streets 130, 5, 154, 224, 214, 51, 294 and parts of Norodom and Sothearos boulevards.

The water festival is a traditional annual event in Cambodia, but was cancelled after the crowd stampeded  in 2010 and 347 people were killed and another 755 injured on the last day of the festival in Phnom Penh. 

The event was restored in 2014 and cancelled again in 2015.

Last year the festival regained its popularity, attracting a large number of visitors.  

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