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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom looks at year of dire and costly natural disasters

Kingdom looks at year of dire and costly natural disasters

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A mother holds her child amid the ruins of a Kampong Thom home in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, which struck in September with lethal force, killing at least 43 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless and without food. The total cost to Cambodia has been estimated at more than US$140 million.

We will continue to educate people about the impact of climate change...

THE toll that natural disasters took on the Kingdom last year was revealed by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) on Monday, when it released its assessment of events that impinged development efforts across the Kingdom in 2009 along with plans for combating similar scenarios in 2010.

“Natural disasters last year destroyed thousands of hectares of paddy rice and killed hundreds of people and cattle,” Keo Vy, deputy director of the communications office at the NCDM, said at a press conference. “Moreover, thousands of schools, sanitation systems, irrigation systems and roads were destroyed as well.”

At least 188 people died, 164 were seriously injured and thousands of homes were destroyed during the course of the year in disasters ranging from floods to Typhoon Ketsana, government data showed. “Some national infrastructure [was also destroyed] by the floods caused by Typhoon Ketsana, local storms and lightning,” Keo Vy said. “It cost around US$140 million to save people during the event and reconstruction afterward.”

Some 48,787 families are still struggling with food shortages after their close encounters with the wrath of nature, he added.

“One hundred and sixty-seven roads in rural areas were destroyed by Ketsana, while 1,169 schools were flooded and damaged,” Keo Vy said.

Ketsana also destroyed 6,693 toilets, 1,696 wells and 102 irrigation systems, he said.

During the past 12 months, lightning strikes have also taken their toll, claiming 140 lives and injuring 39 people. In total, electrical storms damaged 1,598 homes across Cambodia, according to the NCDM.

Fires, meanwhile, killed 11 people and left 12 seriously injured. A total of 86 blazes were reported to the authorities, which destroyed 722 homes and 230 commercial properties.

“In 2010, we are preparing strategies to reduce all types of disasters such as improving security response,” Keo Vy said. “The committee will help with vocational training for officers to intervene during natural disasters as well as increase materials for – and cooperation with – local and international communities.”

Keo Vy called on relevant ministries to educate the public about protecting their crops against elemental onslaughts. “We will continue to educate people about the impact of climate change because natural disasters are a result of that,” he said.

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