Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng has instructed the capital’s 14 district administrations to be prepared to respond to any flooding that may occur, with a focus on preventing any loss of life.

In an October 9 instruction, Sreng ordered that special attention be paid to those who are especially vulnerable to rising rivers or streams due to heavy rainfall.

He ordered that potential high ground that would be suitable for evacuation sites should be identified, and also instructed each administration to work with the pertinent authorities to ensure that the temporary provision of clean water, sanitation facilities and electricity will be possible.

He noted that Dangkor, Kambol, Prek Pnov, Russey Keo, Chroy Changva and Chbar Ampov districts are particularly at risk.

The governor also called on the municipal and military police and the armed forces to be ready to provide transport – such as trucks and speedboats – and any heavy equipment that may be required for rescue operations.

“The Phnom Penh Department of Health must prepare a health protection plan and ensure that ambulances, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are available at the evacuation sites,” he added.

The education and religion departments have been tasked with issuing warnings to all educational institutions and pagodas in vulnerable areas of the capital. Sreng suggested that the education department seek permission from the ministry before suspending the operation of any educational facility.

He said people living along the Mekong or Prek Tnaot rivers should be extra vigilant, and monitor water levels regularly. They must be prepared to evacuate if necessary, and should have emergency plans in place for their property and livestock.

Separately, National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Soth Kim Kolmony said on October 9 that 59 districts and 230 communes across 11 provinces are currently experiencing flooding, with 1,932 families evacuated to high ground.

“The affected provinces are Siem Reap, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Battambang, Kandal, Tbong Khmum, Pailin and Banteay Meanchey,” he said.

The floods have damaged 25,287 houses, 140 schools, over 400km of roads and nearly 3,500ha of paddy fields.

Kim Kolmony explained that the provincial authorities, as well as the provincial disaster management committee, are responsible for responding to natural disasters.

He added that the waters are currently receding, and will continue to subside provided there are no heavy rains.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology issued an October 9 statement explaining that Cambodia continues to be affected by a prolonged low pressure system in the lower reaches of the Mekong Basin over Thailand and Laos. It forecast storms across the country from October 9 to 11, noting that 50 to 60 per cent of provinces may experience moderate rainfall.