Phnom Penh - A Cambodian man's joy turned to dismay after he discovered that his long-lost mother, who had survived the bloody Khmer Rouge regime, is also the mother of his wife.
Tep Song, 35, and his wife Tep Ly, 38, had been removed from their village in the southern province of Svay Rieng and separated by Khmer Rouge troops in 1975 when they were five and eight, respectively.
The pair told aid workers they met again when Song was 17 and extremely ill in hospital in neighbouring Takeo province and Ly was assigned as his nurse. They fell in love and married soon afterwards, unaware that they had any more in common than having been born in the same province.
The couple had believed that the rest of their families had been wiped out. But Song, an itinerant worker, saved everything they had to make a trip to his home village to search for any surviving family - where he discovered his mother, Thit Sohn, 77.
"At first, of course, they were overjoyed, but then the son and mother began naming other relatives who had been murdered," Prom Bopha of the Collect Safe of People (CSP) aid agency said in a telephone interview.
"Ly was surprised, and told them these were also her relatives' names, and then they discovered they shared the same childhood memories, and before long they realised that they had the same father and mother," said Prom Bopha, whose group is caring for the family.
"It should have been a time of great joy, but now the mother cries all day and all night," Prom Bopha said. "They are surprised and very upset and all three are now very ill."
The couple has four children, aged between 14 years and 14 months.
The ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia between 1975 to 1979. Up to two million Cambodians died during the regime's drive to turn the nation into an agrarian utopia, free of class systems, markets and money.
The regime emptied the cities and often removed children from parents to more easily indoctrinate them. Thousands of Cambodians are still searching for family members. - Sapa-dpa