Seven people, including four children, have died in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, after an 11-year-old boy climbed down a well to retrieve the equivalent of 45p from its bottom and six other people died attempting to rescue him.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, the tragic sequence of events began after a 50-year-old man, Tuy Chen, dropped 3,000 riel and a cigarette lighter into the five metre deep well.
After trying unsuccessfully to retrieve his money he abandoned his efforts, but left the bamboo pole he had used to slide down into the well in place.
After being told about the money one of his children also used the pole to slide into the 16-foot shaft but fell into a coma due to lack of oxygen.
Local officials said that the child was unaware that, though safe during the day, oxygen levels in the well would fall dangerously low in the evenings.
When the child failed to return his two sisters, aged 13 and 15, went into the well after him in a desperate attempt to rescue the boy. They also collapsed and died due to the lack of air.
Reports claim that four neighbours of the family, including a 12-year-old, climbed into the well in an attempt to rescue the children and also subsequently died.
"These three kids are siblings, and when their neighbours heard about the kids lost in the well, they also climbed down to help. But the four people who tried to help, they also died one after the other in the same well,” Muy Norn, the district’s acting police chief, told the Phnom Penh Post.
An eighth person who had also attempted a rescue had survived and was in a serious condition.
Che Chhan, 30, one of the sisters of the dead children told the Phnom Penh Post that the family lived in poverty and it was this that caused the children's deaths.
“My 11-year-old brother knew that my father had lost 3,000 riel in the well and he wanted to get it back, without thinking it would be dangerous. And now so many people have died like this", she told the paper.
“I wanted to blame my father, because if he did not tell them about the money, they would not have died. But it’s over now. They would not come back if I blamed my father… but the villagers blame my father and say he was careless.”Reuse content