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R’kiri floods trap thousands

The number of Ratanakkiri residents trapped in their homes by floodwater that continues to rise amid relentless rain is now estimated by provincial authorities to be at least 4,000.

Heavy rain has put five Lumphat district communes – Lbaing I, Chey Uddom, Batang, Seda and Kaleng – under more than one metre of water in a deluge that has damaged crops, killed livestock and left police unable to reach people stranded in their homes, Klong Thoerng, Lumphat’s deputy police chief, said yesterday.

Thoerng’s department has a small boat and a larger boat, he said, though authorities are unable to use either to rescue stranded villagers.

The small boat is too weak to fight the water’s current, while the large boat is unable to navigate around trees in the affected villages.

“The conditions are making it difficult for authorities to reach residents and provide them with food,” Thoerng said, as heavy rains beat down in the area.

“We will need to evacuate the people in these five affected communes if the rain continues for the next few days.”

Sam Soth, 30, a villager in Lbaing I commune, has been waiting for help for two days, he said by phone yesterday. He and his neighbours are running low on food.

“The flood came so fast we did not have time to gather food,” Soth said.

Water in his village had reached his neck and killed some of his livestock, Soth told the Post.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has forecast that rain during the next few days will flood eight other provinces.

From today until Sunday, strong showers originating from a storm in Vietnam could flood Kampong Thom, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, Siem Reap and Stung Treng, said Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology.

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