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Surprise flooding concerns

Eight provinces experienced flooding yesterday, according to a disaster management official, with hectares of farmland also left damaged as unseasonal heavy rains continue to whip the country.

National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman Keo Vy said the abnormal heavy rains had inundated houses and farms across the provinces of Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kampong Speu, Pursat and Kandal.

Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, which flooded at the end of the rainy season in October, was also affected, with 300 houses damaged and 1,000 hectares of farmland at risk, Vy said, but Pursat was the worst hit.

Chhorn Seng, chief of staff for the Pursat town administration, said that 2,250 meters of road and 477 hectares of rice had been destroyed by the water. Thay Leng, the governor of nearby Kandieng district, said work was underway to attempt to stem the floods.

“At the moment, experts are finding the means to drain the water out of the rice fields, because if the flooding continues for a few days more, hundreds of hectares rice will be lost,” Leng explained.

River and flood experts said they were surprised to see any significant rain in December. “It is unusual to have prolonged rainfall during this time of the year,” said Mekong River Commission spokesperson Nhu Duong Hai. “It is a rare occurrence.”

Piotr Sasin, country director of the NGO People in Need, which helps supply the government with flood data, said flooding now was “a very big surprise”.

“Erratic rain patterns can be associated with climate change,” Sasin added, explaining that such erratic rain will be one of the most serious issues Cambodia will experience as the climate changes.

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