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Flood’s deadly toll contested

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Villagers look at the body of a man who drowned during flooding in Banteay Meanchey province on Sunday, Sept.30, 2012. Photograph: National Police

Disputed figures surround the flood death toll in Banteay Meanchey province.

Yesterday, Banteay Mean­chey city hall spokesman Keo Ratanak rejected reports that more than 10 people had drowned in the province as a result of the flooding, saying: “The exact number is seven.”

But according to numbers obtained from other local authorities, including police and district governors, the deaths add up – with three people drowned in Poipet, three in Serei Sophoan, three in Ou’chrov dstrict, two in Phnom Srok distict and two in Mong Kulborei district for a total of 13 people.

The most recent victim, an 18-year-old from Poipet, had been found dead on Saturday, Poipet governor Ngor Meng Chroun said.

Thai authorities in the flood-prone border province of Sa Kaeo informed Banteay Meanchey authorities they might have to release a dam that is filling up after an extended wet period.

“Thailand informed us, so we alerted our people in Ou’chrov district and Poipet town, because they are the two places that will be affected first,” National Committee for Disaster Management’s Keo Vy said.

By yesterday afternoon, Ratanak was still not certain whether Thailand would release the water.

Last Friday, the government announced a low-pressure system would develop until Thursday, leaving 18 provinces, as well as national routes 4, 5 and 6, at risk of flooding.

“The low air pressure can cause rain almost nationwide, so people living in the areas, be careful and take precautions,” the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology advised.

Meanwhile, the flooding in Banteay Meanchey that forced 5,000 families to be evacuated and inundated 41,000 hectares of paddy fields, is on the rise again after subsiding early last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at seangly.phak@phnompenhpost.com

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