water well
Police say all seven died due to lack of oxygen at the bottom of the well Getty

Seven people have died in Cambodia after a man went to the bottom of a well trying to retrieve the equivalent of 45p (75 cents).

The man accidently dropped the 3,000 riel down the well and attempted to retrieve the money in the northwestern province of Siem Reap.

However, after he reached the bottom of the 16 feet (five metre) well, he slipped into a coma due to lack of oxygen.

When others attempted to help the man after they saw him collapse, they too slipped into a coma and died.

Three of the man's children - an 11-year-old boy, his 13-year-old sister and 15-year-old brother - were among those who died during the incident.

Che Chhan, another of the man's children, said her father dropped the money while taking water.

"My youngest brother thought the amount of money was huge for poor people like us," Che Chhan told the Associated Press.

Capt Muy Norn, acting police chief of the Banteay Srei district in Cambodia, said: "When relatives and villagers saw the man collapsed at the well's bottom, they subsequently got into the well to help him and they all also got fainted and died in the well."

Speaking to Koh Santepheap Daily, he added: "In total, seven people including two women died in the well. We concluded that they all died of a lack of oxygen in the old and unused well."

Cambodia is known to be one of the poorest countries in the world.