PHNOM PENH: A Cambodian prince and former prime minister was injured in a head-on collision on a highway in the country’s southwest on Sunday (Jun 17), officials said.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his wife Ouk Phalla were rushed to hospital after a taxi travelling in the other direction slammed into his motorcade.
Ranariddh’s sports utility vehicle was hit head on by a taxi driving in the opposite direction, said Chuon Narin, police chief of the province of Preah Sihanouk.
“The prince was taken in a helicopter for an emergency rescue in Phnom Penh,” Chuon Narin told Reuters. “He is seriously injured but he will be fine.”
Ranariddh’s wife, Ouk Phalla, 39, an exponent of traditional dance, died in a hospital in Preah Sihanouk, Chuon Narin said, adding that both SUVs involved in the crash had been speeding.
A report on the national police website showed badly damaged cars and victims on the roadside. Seven people were reported injured..
Ranariddh, 74, was travelling from the riverside town of Kampot to Preah Sihanouk as part of campaigning for controversial national elections set for Jul 29.
His party Funcinpec is taking part despite widespread complaints that the poll will be neither free nor fair after the main opposition group the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was banned late last year.
Hun Sen, the prime minister who has been in power for 33 years, has crushed dissent leading up to the election, ensuring a resounding victory for his ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Ranariddh, the half-brother of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, has had a historically fraught relationship with Hun Sen, who pushed him out of power in 1997.
But he has cosied up to the former foe as part of a political comeback, and was granted one of the CNRP’s parliamentary seats after they were redistributed.
Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in Cambodia, where road rules are weakly enforced. Highways also lack dividers while speed limits are often ignored.
In 2015 Ranariddh was slightly injured when his car was hit by a truck.