Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blaze victims rebuild shattered lives



Blaze victims rebuild shattered lives

Blaze victims rebuild shattered lives

P hnom Penh's Deum Chahn village has become a hive of activity as thousands of

families rally together to rebuild their homes in the wake of a fire that razed

628 wooden houses on the banks of the Tonle Sap.

For many of the 1,335

Khmer and Vietnamese families left homeless after the fire gutted the shanty

town near the Ho Chi Minh bridge, a piece of plastic and some charred wooden

boards are their only possessions.

Soun Son, 58, who had a market stall

selling clothes, started weeping as she remembered the tragedy which killed

three adults, two children and wounded five.

"I lost everything," said

Son, who has had to sleep with her four children on wooden benches on top of the

rubble where her house used to be. I will have to borrow money to start up all

over again."

Like Son, Sok Samoen, 52, also lost everything he owned.

Samoen, a driver for a transport company, who will also have to borrow money to

rebuild his home, said he spotted smoke from the fire while driving his taxi on

the other side of the city.

"When I got back, everything had burned. The

children rescued as much as they could. I have lost my house, furniture,

clothes, everything."

Another victim, Chea Chey, 35, said she and her

family are sleeping in the ruins of their home. While her three children play

among the charred remains of their house, Chey cuts vegetables for a meal on a

makeshift surface.

While the sounds of hammers, saws and drills ring out

across the area as villagers build wooden structures, erect scaffolding and

string up blue plastic sheets for cover, investigations into the cause of the

fire continue.

Leng Huor, 39, said the fire started in the house of

noodle-maker, Ket Vanny, 38, who has not been seen since the fire. "He was

burning incense sticks I think," said Leng Huor. "The children may have knocked

them over."

Even women are making a contribution to rebuilding Deum

Chahn. Many, carrying vegetables and fruit from the nearby Chbar Ampor market to

cook over their charcoal stoves.

Children play among bricks and burned

refuse. Broken glass has been swept into piles, out of harm's way.

The

loss in financial terms has not yet been assessed.

King Norodom Sihanouk

has urged humanitarian organizations, the government and authorities to provide

aid to the victims, government news agency AKP reported.

The Cambodian

Red Cross has supplied 50 kilograms of rice to each family and 15 local NGOs

from the Urban Sector Group visited the site the day after the fire to survey

affected families.

A total of $20,000 has been donated or pledged and

some of the money has been used already to buy plastic sheeting which has been

distributed through the area.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian