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Thousands flee reservoir

Villagers in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district row a boat through floodwaters
Villagers in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district row a boat through floodwaters. VIREAK MAI

Thousands flee reservoir

Surging floodwaters led officials to declare a state of emergency at a commune in Banteay Meanchey province on Saturday night after the Trapaing Thma reservoir expanded an estimated 200 metres.

Many of some 2,000 families living close to the Khmer Rouge-era reservoir in Phnom Srok district chose to evacuate after an initial surge pushed the reservoir back 100 metres, Poy Char commune chief Peng Ben Thara said yesterday.

“On Saturday, we declared [the situation] an emergency in case a bad thing happened and we could not prevent it. We know some people have run for safety,” Bun Thara said, adding that rainfall has decreased since Saturday, but officials are remaining vigilant. “We have used sandbags and sticks for fences to prevent the reservoir [from flooding], and we are always on high alert because we do not dare [risk] a break,” he said.

Despite more than 700 people assisting with sandbagging efforts, residents remain worried, 41-year-old Phnom Srok resident Chun Den said.

“Please … [Prime Minister Hun Sen], help add more forces and vehicles, because we currently only have five cars” available, she said.

Due to a recent decrease in rainfall, however, flooding had begun to ease in some parts of Banteay Meanchey, provincial spokesman Ouk Keo Rattanak said.

“Water in some places has receded 20 centimetres because of a decrease in rain for three days, but in Serey Sophorn, Mongkol Borei and Preah Netr districts, water is stagnant,” he said.

National Road 5, connecting Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, remains waterlogged.

More than 1.5 million Cambodians have been affected by flooding and at least 104 killed.

The National Committee on Disaster Management has yet to release new information on the number of people whose health has been impacted by floods and could not be reached for comment.

Increased risk of water- and vector-borne diseases, including but not limited to typhoid fever, acute watery diarrhoea, leptospirosis, hepatitis A, malaria and dengue fever, have been outlined as plausible by the World Health Organization.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE

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