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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Flood warnings for Mekong

A woman walks across a makeshift path way during flooding last year
A woman walks across a makeshift path way during flooding last year. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has warned of potential flooding in the coming days. Hong Menea

Flood warnings for Mekong

Heavy rains may cause dangerous flooding along the upper parts of the Mekong River in Cambodia in the coming days, a senior official at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology warned yesterday.

Mao Hak, deputy director of technical works at the Department of Hydrology and River Work, told the Post that rainfall in Kampong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces will climb to “alarm” levels by Sunday.

“The villagers who are living along the river or central lowland need to be aware, especially for their children and elderly people, and they have to make sure that these people keep away from the water,” he said.

A statement issued by Hak’s department said that while the Mekong’s water stations at Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham measured safe water levels of 10, 20.25 and 13.65 metres yesterday, the river’s depths are expected to breach the alarm threshold by August 3 as they reach 10.75, 21.95 and 15 metres.

The announcement follows last week’s warning from the ministry that the remnants of Typhoon Rammasun, which hit China, Vietnam and the Philippines in-mid July, were causing the Mekong to quickly rise.

Khan Chamnarn, Kratie’s deputy governor, whose province faces the highest predicted levels of flooding, said that it is important for residents to heed the announcement despite the river’s relatively calm waters yesterday. Awareness of emergency procedures, he said, will reduce deaths.

“Kratie province has prepared 118 safe hills for evacuation when the flood comes,” he said, adding that the provincial government has also supplied boats, tents and medicine to help rescue victims when the river rises.

Chamnarn referenced tragic outcomes of the region’s past natural disasters, such as the 2011 floods that killed at least nine people and the 2013 floods that claimed at least 25 lives, to encourage residents to take care.

While the department did not provide depth measurements for other rivers in the region, Hak said that farmers along the Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers should also brace themselves for flooding.

Phnom Penh is safe for now, he added, although he suspects that the capital will face alarm levels as the rainy season progresses into October.

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