Severe rain and hail storms hit several provinces on Tuesday leaving one person dead, more than 10 injured and nearly 200 houses destroyed or damaged, the National Committee for Disaster Management reported yesterday.
A 27-year-old woman died when storms caused her house to collapse in Kratie province’s Kanhchor commune, where seven others were injured, NCDM cabinet chief Keo Ny said.
Storms also affected Stung Treng, Svay Rieng and Kampong Thom provinces, surprising some residents, who witnessed hail for the first time.
“It was unbelievable,” said Oun Bot, governor of Kampong Thom’s Sandan district. “The rainstorm brought down pieces of ice, which we had never seen before in Cambodia. They fell with the rain, and when they hit our bodies, it hurt, so we realised there were pieces of ice.”
The storm completely destroyed seven houses in the district and damaged the roofs of 72 others houses and three school buildings, injuring six people, he said. As of yesterday evening, local authorities and experts were conducting an urgent meeting about the storm, he added.
“Experts are studying this natural disaster to find out why it’s raining with pieces of ice,” he said.
Say Kosal, deputy governor of Stung Treng town, said grape-sized “pieces of ice” had damaged 90 houses in Stung Treng town.
Dr Uy Sam Ath, former director of the Cambodian Red Cross’s Disaster Management Department, said hailstorms were quite rare in Cambodia but had been seen before in several provinces, including Mondulkiri, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin.
He added that a cluster of hailstorms had hit Cambodia several years ago and that the country had not seen as many in the past two or three years.
“I think it’s because of climate change,” he added.
According to a recent report from the NCDM, storms so far this year have destroyed a total of 1,191 houses and damaged 5,025 more, killing 16 people and injuring 68.
Additional reporting by Justine Drennan