THE bodies of three people who drowned in separate incidents this weekend were recovered Tuesday as rough weather continued to pummel the country.
Even as Prime Minister Hun Sen offered gifts to grieving relatives, meteorologists predicted that the storms, which have caused heavy rainfall and flooding in some areas, would persist.
Officials found the body of Phan Roy, 17, Tuesday morning floating roughly 4 kilometres from the Preah Sihanouk province beach where he and four others were swept into the sea on Sunday. One person was rescued while the bodies of two others were found later in the day.
"We found the body of a boy floating in the sea," Yin Bunnath, Preah Sihanouk province's deputy police chief, told the Post Tuesday.
A 14-year-old girl, Doeurk Srey Touch, was still missing Tuesday. "We believe she is dead, and we are looking for a body floating in the sea," Yin Bunnath said.
The storms that have lashed the country continued to hamper search efforts Tuesday.
"The coast guard ... is looking for her, but now it is heavily raining," said Sam Sam Ath, chief of cabinet for the province.
The relatives of the two people found dead Sunday were grieving for their loved ones on Wednesday. Kong Huon said he blamed himself for the death of his daughter, Kon Khann, 17. "I am so regretful for my daughter's death," he said. "It is my mistake because I allowed her to have a walk with other friends at the sea."
Ngeth Sina, 15, drowned in the same accident. "I am very sorry for my sister," said her brother, Ngeth Chhoun. "She never visited the sea, and it was her first time to the sea."
Meanwhile Tuesday, officials in neighbouring Kampot province found the bodies of two drowned men. Keat Yat, 41, and Soy Leap, 52, both from Prey Kom village, Teuk Chhou district, in Kampot province, drowned after they slipped into fast-flowing water while crossing a flooded road, the province's deputy governor, So Chea, said Tuesday.
The regular monsoon season is combining with a low-pressure system to spark the recent storms, according to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.
Winds with gusts of up to 30 km/h, as well as heavy rain and storms, have lashed much of the country.
Coastal regions like Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Koh Kong and Kep have been particularly hard-hit. Ministry officials are expecting more rough weather today and tomorrow, with heavy rain and storms in Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Battambang, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom provinces.
Kampot's deputy governor, So Chea, said his province was prepared to evacuate people by boat if the rain and flooding continue. Further flooding is expected in provinces along the Mekong, such as Kratie, Kampong Cham and Stung Treng, but some officials downplayed its severity. "I think the floods will not be serious because it is at the end of the rainy season," said Ly Thuch, deputy president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.
He said the government would not be looking to the international community for help. "We do not yet look for assistance from overseas to assist the flooded people because it is now in the hands of the provincial authority to solve," Ly Thuch said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen offered food to villagers besieged by floods during a visit Tuesday. He urged people to watch their children and to ensure that conditions remain sanitary to prevent disease, according to Ros Se, director of Kampot province's information department.
Families of the two Kampot drowning victims will be offered 5 million riels (US$1,203) by the government, and 500,000 riels by the provincial authority, said Deputy Governor So Chea.