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National Committee for Disaster Management Vice President Nhim Vanda (left) talks to Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khun Hour yesterday morning about flooding in the area.
National Committee for Disaster Management Vice President Nhim Vanda (left) talks to Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khun Hour yesterday morning about flooding in the area. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Floods wreak havoc

Residents of Kampot province continued to feel the devastating effects yesterday of widespread flooding in the area caused by the opening of the Kamchay Hydropower Dam, which has left thousands temporarily homeless and crippled local businesses.

Keo Vy, spokesman of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said houses, markets and roads across Kampot town and five communes in the province’s Teuk Chhou district have been affected by the flooding.

“Until now, 1,760 houses … have been [completely] inundated and some people are being evacuated immediately to higher ground,” Vy said.

Chhun Chheun, chief of staff at Teuk Chhou district police station, said 3,600 families had been affected by the flooding, and hundreds of hectares of farmland had been destroyed as of yesterday morning.

“Authorities are using rowboats and motorboats to save and evacuate the people to safe ground” in the hills surrounding the area, he added.

Evacuees have sought shelter with relatives, or are sleeping under makeshift structures, while some families are still sleeping in their flooded homes, according to officials.

Local authorities said the widespread flooding began on Wednesday when the gates of Kamchay Hydropower Dam were opened to deal with heavy rainfall that risked filling it beyond its limit.

People affected by the flooding have hit out at officials for failing to give adequate warnings before releasing the water.

They “should have declared an emergency at least three days beforehand . . . so that we would be able to prepare our homes for the floods”, which could have saved valuable property and crops, said local fisherman Nak Sen.

The flooding has also temporarily crippled the local economy.

According to Soy Sinol, director of the province’s tourism department, the industry had been particularly hard hit by the flooding, which had destroyed a number of “tourist huts”.

Local entrepreneur E Ngearnviseth said he lost 10 of his 14 huts to the floods.

“I don’t know when I can build them again. It will take one or two years,” he said.

Kampot wasn’t alone in being affected by floods. Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces are also experiencing the effects of considerable rainfall.

Weather conditions are expected to return to normal after today, according to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

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