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Children bike through a flooded village in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday.
Children bike through a flooded village in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday. Pha Lina

Capital officials identify safe zones for flooding

Officials in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday warned citizens to be prepared to evacuate their homes in the event of severe flooding. The warning was issued in five communes near the rising Prek Tnout River as plans were made to establish safe zones for the villagers to potentially take refuge.

“In this situation, please brothers and sisters who live along Prek Tnout River, be highly aware – if there is flooding, please move to the safe place,” wrote Dangkor District Governor Nut Putdara on his Facebook page yesterday. The five communes considered in danger of severe flooding are Sak Sampov, Kraing Pongro, Kong Noy, Spean Thma and Prek Kampoes.

Other local officials said yesterday that they, too, had been making preparations for anticipated flooding.“We announced to villagers to seek out a safe place nearby if there is a flood,” said Sak Sampov commune chief Tith Sam Aun.

Prek Kampoes commune chief Chum Chheang said yesterday that authorities have prepared three safe zones in the commune for villagers to take refuge in the event of high water.

In a 2015 study, housing NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) warned that the “widespread” practice of the government selling lakes to developers, who fill them in and then build on them, was exacerbating urban flooding. STT warned that these lakes “mitigate flood risk”, and are an “important component in Phnom Penh’s complex drainage system”.

The study examined 24 lakes that were partially or completely filled in Phnom Penh. Three of the lakes were in Dangkor district. One, Choeung Ek Lake, was filled in to make space to construct Hun Sen Boulevard.

Nonetheless, Chan Yutha, spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources, downplayed the gravity of the situation. “In Phnom Penh, people will not be affected by the flood,” he said.

However, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that the city is currently pumping water out of the capital in order to relieve flooding in Por Sen Chey, Sen Sok, Tuol Kork and Russey Keo districts.

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