Seven die in well rescue attempt

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Phnom Penh -

Seven people including four children died in a well in Cambodia after trying to rescue an 11-year-old boy who had climbed in to retrieve the equivalent of 75 cents, police said on Monday.

The tragedy, which took place in a remote area of Siem Reap province on Saturday, unfolded after a 50-year-old man dropped 3 000 riel (75 cents) into the five-metre-deep well.

The man climbed into the well using a ladder, fishing out his cigarette lighter but failing to find the money.

“He did not take the ladder out of the well, and in the evening his 11-year-old son climbed down to search for the money, but he passed out because of a lack of oxygen at the bottom of the well,” police official Muy Norn told AFP.

Two of the boy's elder siblings - aged 13 and 15 - and another 12-year-old relative then climbed down to help the stricken boy but also passed out.

Three adult neighbours then died in a desperate attempt to rescue the children, Muy Norn said, adding police later pulled the bodies from the well.

“It was a tragedy. Seven people died because of 3 000 riel,” Che Chhan, an older sister of the three siblings, told AFP.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia with an average GDP per person of around $1 000 a year. The World Bank says around 20 percent of the population - or 2.8 million people - live in poverty. - Sapa-AFP

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