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Dangkor villagers evacuated

DANGKOR district officials evacuated nearly 700 families from villages close to the overflowing Prek Thnoat river in Phnom Penh yesterday, while Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town effectively shut down because of flooded roads, officials said.

On Friday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema issued a notice warning residents living near the Prek Thnoat river that they would be evacuated if water levels continued to rise.

Since then, a total of 573 families from Sak Sampov commune alone have been evacuated to higher ground, in some cases to the sides of roads, said Tith Sam Oun, the chief of the commune.

“We are very lucky that no one has been injured or killed by the floods, and we have managed to help them in time in evacuating them from their homes,” she said.

She added that water levels in the river and the commune had begun to recede, and that she expected a normal level to be reached within “two to three days”.

Deputy district governor Haem Darith said that, beyond the 573 families from Sak Sampov commune, 121 families from 20 villages in five other Dangkor communes had been evacuated. “We are now working hard to assist affected people,” he said.

“We have brought them from their houses to safer places and prepared medical care for them.”

He said six excavators had been used to pump water from the river, and that “hundreds of thousands” of sandbags were used to prevent overflowing water from entering the surrounding communes further.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology last week, the recent heavy rainfall is expected to continue through at least today.

The rains and resulting flooding, which began last Sunday, have been caused by low atmospheric pressure affecting lowland areas – including Phnom Penh – as well as Kampong Speu, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, according to a ministry statement issued last week.

Keo Vy, director of the National Committee for Disaster Management, confirmed yesterday that four people had died from drowning since the floods began: one each in Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang and Preah Sihanouk provinces, and one in Phnom Penh.

He said an initial report on damage estimates caused by the floods should be ready later this week.

“We regret the deaths, and we are now working hard on this,” he said.

“We are also waiting for reports to be sent from the provinces. I hope that the primary report on total damages will come on Wednesday or Thursday.”

In Banteay Meanchey province, flooding has crippled the town of Poipet, where roads have been closed and residents prevented from going to work, said deputy provincial police chief Chan Kosal.

“There was no rain [yesterday], but the impact of previous rain has seriously impacted the province,” he said. “In Ou Chouv and Poipet districts, the waters are still high and people cannot go to work.”

In Pursat, deputy governor Khov Sokha said a 5-kilometre stretch of road had been damaged, and that more than 100 houses had collapsed due to flooding. He added that more than 10,000 hectares of rice fields had been affected.

Meanwhile, Keng Sameth, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces engineering unit in Preah Vihear province, said on Saturday that heavy flooding had destroyed more than a kilometre of a road that connects Preah Vihear temple to nearby Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda.

“We are now working to remove big pieces of stones from the road so we can repair it,” he said. “We hope that we will be able to do this by [yesterday or today].”

He added that the road had been built by RCAF at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009.



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