Cambodia marked a national day of mourning Thursday, grieving the more than 300 people who were killed in Monday's stampede at a water festival in the capital of Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany wiped away tears as they lit incense in memory of the at least 347 people who were killed. At least 395 more were injured and some people are still missing.
Police now estimate that there were between 7,000 and 8,000 people on the suspension bridge at the time of the stampede. The bridge started to sway, people began to yell, and the stampede started, crushing some and forcing others into the Bassac River below.
"People became panicked when they saw other people fall down, and they started running when they heard cries that the bridge was going to collapse," city police chief Touch Naroth told AP Television News on Wednesday.
In the wake of public anger, police said they may have concentrated too much on pickpockets and overcrowded boats, and lost sight of the size of the crowd. Some earlier reports had the death toll higher than current estimates, but authorities say that was because of overlapping numbers from different institutions.
Country at near standstill
Flags flew at half-mast and many schools and businesses throughout the country were closed so people could take part in the memorial or watch it on television. A military band played sombre music and uniformed school children carried flowers as the victims' families looked on.
Later in the day, members of the public were allowed to come up to an altar that had been set up for the memorial, laying gifts of fruit, rice and water, which are considered sustenance for the spirits of the dead.
The stampede happened during an annual water festival marking the end of the monsoon season that attracts approximately two million people to the city.
Officials announced Thursday that a permanent memorial will be created either on or near the bridge, to mark the biggest tragedy since the reign of the communist Khmer Rouge, which killed an estimated 1.7-million in the late 1970s.
Some early reports had suggested that some of the dead had been electrocuted, but a member of the government's investigating committee said there were no signs of that. The committee is expected to release its final report next week.