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Deadly flooding spreads

Deadly flooding spreads

Kandal and Prey Veng are on alert after rising waters along the Mekong River killed six people, submerged nearly 5,500 hectares of land, and forced the evacuation of 574 families in three upstream provinces.

“For this time of year, water levels are higher than they have been in more than a decade,” Oxfam spokesperson Francis Perez said yesterday, adding that the flooding had probably affected more than 10,000 families.    

National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman Keo Vy said  5,400 hectares of transplanted rice seedlings had been submerged in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham provinces.

“As of Monday, the flooding has caused the death of two elderly people in Kratie as well as four children in Kampong Cham,” he said.  “Nearly 250 hectares of cash crops, such as papayas and cassavas, have also been destroyed.”

Officials from the NCDM and provincial officials are monitoring rice crops, which risk being destroyed if left inundated for too long.

The flood’s youngest victim, two-year-old Phoung Sabath, drowned on Sunday in Kampong Ream commune of Kampong Cham’s Koh Sotin district after falling from her aunt’s house into the floodwater,  police chief Mar Chanda said.

Her aunt was preoccupied with lighting incense in celebration of an annual Chinese rainy-season festival that honours the water spirits.

Another girl from the commune, 12-year-old An Heang, had managed to save a friend who grew tired while swimm-ing in the water, only to drown in the strong currents, Mar Chanda said.  

Yesterday morning, officials from the Cambodian Red Cross delivered 16 tonnes of rice, along with mosquito nets, blankets and other food supplies to villagers in affected areas.

“We are not considering it a disaster because the government’s response was quick, effective and relatively organised,” Francis Perez said.  

Mao Hak, deputy general director of the technical department at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said flooding would recede gradually in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham.

But he warned that flooding would spread downstream, affecting areas close to the lower Mekong, as well as the Tonle Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers.

“I am warning citizens in Kandal and Prey Veng to look after their children and the elderly as flooding spreads,” Mao Hak said.

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