Injured Ranariddh flown to Thai hospital

Horrific crash: The damage to the car that was carrying Ranariddh and his wife Ouk Phalla in Preah Sihanouk province. — AFP/EPA

Horrific crash: The damage to the car that was carrying Ranariddh and his wife Ouk Phalla in Preah Sihanouk province. — AFP/EPA

PHNOM PENH: A Cambodian prince who was a candidate in upcoming general elections was transferred to a hospital in neighbouring Thailand after being injured in a road crash that killed his wife, said a fellow politician and a Cambodian news agency.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, 74, was in a convoy along with senior members of his Funcinpec party heading toward Sihanoukville in southwest Cambodia on Sunday morning when a taxi travelling in the opposite direction slammed into his SUV, said a senior party member in the group.

Ranariddh’s wife also was standing as a candidate in Cambodia’s general election next month.

His 39-year-old wife Ouk Phalla died in a hospital after the crash and Ranariddh suffered head injuries and was transferred to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, for urgent treatment, Sihanoukville police chief Gen Chuon Narin said.

Ranariddh, who was originally reported severely injured, suffered broken ribs, a politician familiar with his situation said.

The politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release information, said Ranariddh was flown to Bangkok at 1am yesterday for medical care on request from the country’s Royal Palace.

Cambodia’s King Norodom Siha­moni is Ranariddh’s half-brother.

Fresh News, a news agency close to the government, also reported that Ranariddh had been taken to Thailand.

Nhep Bun Chin, a Funcinpec spokesman, said Ranariddh’s condition had improved, but declined to confirm his evacuation to Bangkok.

Healthcare in Cambodia has a poor reputation, and senior officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as the well-to-do, often go abroad for serious medical problems.

Ranariddh was Cambodia’s co-prime minister for four years in an uneasy power-sharing arrangement with Hun Sen after his party won a United Nations-organised election in 1993.

His party’s popularity was largely due to its royalist credentials, although Ranariddh’s personal relations with his popular father, late King Norodom Sihanouk, were often strained.

Ranariddh is currently president of Funcinpec.

It holds 41 seats in the National Assembly, but only because seats held by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party were redistributed after CNRP was dissolved. — AP