DISASTER officials revised their estimates of the damage caused by Typhoon Ketsana upwards on Sunday, declaring that more than 66,000 families forced from their homes by floodwaters are facing imminent food shortages.
At least 43 people died and 67 were seriously injured during the killer typhoon and its ensuing floods, National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Keo Vy said. Kampong Thom province, which bore the brunt of the storm, suffered the heaviest casualties, with 20 deaths. Siem Reap province recorded eight fatalities, four died in Preah Sihanouk; Kampong Cham, Kampot and Ratanakkiri reported three deaths each. Two died in Kampong Chhnang.
Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management at the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), said that so far, his organisation has provided emergency food and non-food relief to 44,885 families, spending nearly $53 million on food aid alone – dwarfing the NCDM’s running Ketsana damage estimate of $44 million. “This food is enough to live on for the time being, but we cannot sustain this relief for much longer,” he said. “I really regret what happened in our country. So much was destroyed in such a short time.”
Canals inundated with runoff from Ketsana have compounded the misery of hundreds of families in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, who have been displaced by floods that have been blamed on the filling-in of Boeung Kak lake.
Ly Rosyami, Russey Keo district deputy governor, said Sunday that the flooding has affected 2,409 families in Russey Keo district so far.
“We’ve surveyed the number of families affected by floods in four of Russey Keo’s communes and found that out of these, 262 families had to leave their homes and rent accommodation elsewhere,” she said. Data from other communes have yet to be collated because flooding has rendered them inaccessible.
Keath Chantha, 43, a widow and mother of five, fled her home a month ago and is still waiting for the water to recede. “Hundreds of poor families are still living in their flooded homes, some of them lacking food, but none of the authorities are providing food for them,” she said.
Kep Chuktema, governor of Phnom Penh, vowed to improve infrastructure in the district. “Next year, we will build a dam station in Russey Keo district to protect the area from flooding,” he said.