Passersby watch recovery efforts at the site of a landslide on the bank of the Tonle Sap, north of the Cambodian Japanese Friendship Bridge, April 2.
The government will provide replacement housing for the victims of the April 1 riverbank collapse that cast 39 stilt houses into the waters of the Tonle Sap, according to local authorities.
The landslide in Sammaky village of Russey Keo district, about 6km north of Phnom Penh, occurred at 2:50pm on Tuesday and left 61 families temporarily homeless. Although authorities at first feared fatalities, most of the houses were unoccupied at the time of the incident and there were few reported injuries.
“No one was hurt in my family,” said a 23-year-old woman who survived the landslide. “We just lost a lot ofproperty. We don’t know how much yet.”
Dang Sophanna, assistant Chief Commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy in Phnom Penh, said that two young people suffered head injuries in the landslide, but that more serious harm was averted by the quick action of the authorities.
“The navy was later on the scene than the police but [we] saved several people from the water,” he told the Post.
The Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Lim Kean Hor, denied the collapse had been caused by the extraction of sand from the river, saying the landslip was the result of poor building foundations.
Survivors are currently being housed near the site of the collapse and fed by commune authorities until alternate land is made available by the government, according to Tieng Sophal, a Russey Keo commune councilor.
“His Excellency Kep Chutema (Governor of Phnom Penh) has promised to provide new land in Dangkor district for those whose houses collapsed into the river,” she said.
Russey Keo District Governor Khleang Huort expressed his sympathy for the homeless and confirmed that the municipal government had plans to provide new land in Dangkor district.
“The police are counting currently estimating the value of the property lost in the disaster,” he said.
However, Huort warned that nearby stilt houses were in danger of further landslides and urged the governor to speed up plans for their relocation.
“I’m afraid the land of some nearby people will also collapse,” he said.
Phok Kheoun, 52, who was at home at the time of the incident, said he lost all his possessions when the ground gave way.
“I managed to grab my children and grandchildren just in time. But I lost everything.
“I was very glad when I heard the announcement that the government would give us new land in Dangkor district,” he said.