While Khmer ground troops still battle to clear road routes into Phnom Penh, the Mekong River remains a lifeline for the capital.
GV Shipping on Mekong
SV Name of Korean freighter
SV Bullet holes on superstructure (4 shots)
SV Sandbags on deck
SV Crew members
GV Cargo ship, tyres and vehicles on dock
SV PAN Ditto
SV Flag and sand-bags on damaged superstructure of second freighter (2 shots)
GV PAN Freighter Haya by dock
Initials BB/1706 TH/PN/BB/1718
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: While Khmer ground troops still battle to clear road routes into Phnom Penh, the Mekong River remains a lifeline for the capital. On Friday (September 14), a new river convoy reached the city bringing essential supplies of fuel, ammunition and food. There were even consumer goods ordered from abroad by Khmer businessmen.
The cost of the expedition was a Communist ambush about twelve hours out from Phnom Penh. Principal target was a South Korean tanker, Shells set fire to a cabin located just behind the tanks holding high octane fuel. Though one tank was punctured by bullets, the crewmen plugged the leaks with makeshift wooden pegs.
Although no-one was hurt as the ships ran the gauntlet of Communist fire, some of the crewmen were declaring they would quit the Mekong run unless the situation improves. Some blamed the high-speed riverboats of the Khmer Navy for not providing better protection.
When the cargo was unloaded on the Phnom Penh dockside, a large proportion seemed to be new civilian vehicles and spares -- an odd choice for a city where food price are soaring and were some commodities, such as coffee, are now unobtainable.
SYNOPSIS: Battle-scarred after steaming through a Communist ambush, a new convoy reached Phnom Penh up the Mekong River on Friday bringing vital supplies for the Khmer capital.
The ships came under fire when just twelve hours from Phnom Penh. Chief target was a Sough Korean tanker. Shells set fire to a cabin located behind tanks holding high octane fuel. Several bullets also punctured one of the tanks, but the plucky Korean crewmen plugged the leaks with makeshift wooden pegs.
No-one was injured. But there was criticism of the Khmer Navy for not providing better protection with their river gunboats, and some crewmen said they wouldn't make the trip again.
When the cargo was unloaded, it became clear that a large proportion of the cargo for which the seamen risked their lives was made up of civilian cars and spares. There were also supplies of fuel, ammunition and food -- more vital to the Khmer war effort. Nevertheless, latest reports show the price of food still soaring with some items, such as coffee, now unobtainable.