PREY NUB, CAMBODIA: Ouk Phalla, the wife Cambodia's former first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, died in a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province's Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said.
Rananriddh, who was also severely injured, is also the president of the Funcinpec party.
He was travelling with his 39-year-old wife from Kampot province along with a motorcade with other party leaders, to a campaign rally in Preah Sihanouk, said Yun Min, the provincial governor.
At about 9am on Sunday (June 17), Prince Ranariddh and Phalla were travelling on National Road 4 when a taxi coming from the opposite direction, collided head-on with the vehicle. At least five others were also injured in the incident.
The royal couple were immediately airlifted to the provincial hospital, said the deputy chief of the provincial traffic police, Ket Sopheak.
Min said that a doctor informed him that Phalla died at about noon.
According to a local police official who asked not to be named, the driver of the taxi, Vul Saret, 34, was slightly injured and, after seeking treatment at a private clinic, was detained by the provincial police.
"The taxi (an SUV) slammed into the prince's vehicle which caused a total of seven people to be badly injured, including two women. After the accident, the prince and his wife were rushed to the emergency room at the provincial hospital," he said.
Min said Ranariddh was later taken to the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital by helicopter and warded at about 1:15pm, noting that the 74-year-old is currently "in a serious but stable condition".
Ranariddh, who is the half brother of the current King and son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, has faced criticism of late for taking part in July's national elections, especially after the Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
The party was seen as the only viable alternative to Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party. After the dissolution, Ranariddh was given one of the distributed CNRP's seats in the National Assembly.
Hun Sen, who was previously second prime minister to Ranariddh, ousted him in 1997.
This was not the first time that Prince Ranariddh and Phalla have been involved in a traffic accident. In April 2015, the couple was in a car accident in Prey Chhor district in Kampong Cham province. Phalla's left eye was badly injured. She was hospitalised abroad for a time. – The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network