More than 148 people are now believed to have died in flooding that has swept through Cambodia, while Prime Minister Hun Sen has called the waters the worst to affect the Kingdom in a decade.
The official death toll currently stands at 148, but more are believed to have died over the weekend and are not yet included in the official list, Cabinet Chief of the National Committee for Disaster Management Keo Vy said yesterday.
Of the official count, 52 were children, the Prime Minister said in a public address on Saturday, adding that 80,000 hectares of rice crops had been destroyed and 170,000 families displaced. “The government offers condolences to the families of the dead and will donate 2 million riels (US$500) to the families of each of the dead,” the premier said.
But those who have put themselves in danger and had perished because of their own carelessness would not receive a donation, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday. The government has also given US$55 million to the National Committee for Disaster Management to provide emergency relief and bereavement payments, he said.
The floods are the worst since 2000, according to Hun Sen, when more than 350 people perished. The 2000 disaster was at the time reported to be the worst flooding in 40 years and United Nations reports said 30 per cent of the population was affected.
Waters in Cambodia receded over the weekend but several storm systems – such as Typhoon Nesat and Tropical Storm Nalgae – could impact on the Kingdom.
“Even after the flood water recedes, we have to be careful of the storm that is crossing the Philippines as it will move to China and Vietnam and could affect the Kingdom,” Hun Sen said on Saturday.
The US Embassy in Phnom Penh echoed those concerns in an emergency message to its citizens regarding the possible dangers of Nesa on Friday. “Conditions and water levels in Cambodia may change rapidly and without warning,” the message said. China’s Xinua news agency yesterday reported that Typhoon Nesat, the strongest to hit southern China since 2005, was already causing dangerous
water levels in southern Chinese provinces, with levels likely to peak today. Vietnam weather reports yesterday predicted Tropical Storm Nalgae to hit Hanoi and northern Vietnam on Wednesday.
In Cambodia, Hun Sen said is still much work to be done for affected areas including provision of food, shelter, medicine and clean water.
Assessing damage is also proving difficult for officials. Although Hun Sen said on Saturday 80,000 hectares of rice crop had been destroyed, this figure could be closer to 200,000 hectares said Ministry of Agriculture deputy director general Hean Vannhorn.
“We aren’t aware yet of exactly how much rice has been destroyed, all we have is temporary results,” he said.