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Drowning deaths up, ministries ordered to assess flood damage

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Police found a body of woman who drowned in Banteay Meanchey's O’Chrou district on October 11, 2020. FN

Drowning deaths up, ministries ordered to assess flood damage

Although floodwaters have receded to normal levels, drowning deaths are still increasing noticeably, according to a report released on October 26 by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

Floods have so far resulted in 43 drownings. Banteay Meanchey province has the highest toll at 26 including eight children, followed by Pursat and Kampong Thom with each reporting six deaths.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall spokesman Ly Sary told The Post on Tuesday that most of the drownings were attributed to individual and parent carelessness.

An exception is a father in Banteay Meanchey’s Thma Puok district and a village guard in Poipet town. The former died while trying to rescue his son while the latter died trying to save the lives of other people.

“According to the families, carelessness, such as kids playing in the water without parents nearby, is to blame. Some people went fishing or tried to harvest water lily while under the influence of alcohol in areas that were flooding,” Sary said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed four ministries to assign officials to immediately assess flood damage in the country and submit plans for repair and reconstruction.

The ministries of Public Works and Transport; Water Resources and Meteorology; Rural Development; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are required to assess the damage with officials from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“Some roads, bridges and canals were broken, so do not wait for reports from provincial departments. Do not wait for the agriculture, rural Development, water resources, or public works departments to assess the damages.

“Each ministry has a lot of secretaries of states and undersecretaries of state. Work with the local authorities. Do not delay. When the water recedes, start repairing and restoring immediately,” Hun Sen said.

Public works ministry spokesman Wasim Sorya said on October 26 that officials have begun assessing flood damage since the beginning of last week and would continue the work once the water dries up. This year’s floods have severely damaged major roads and disrupted travel and the transport of many goods.

“We have found 400km of damaged roads,” Sorya said.

Institute for Road Safety director Kong Ratanak said while he supported the prime minister’s recommendation that the ministers expedite this work, he urged that quality and technology be taken into account.

“He [Hun Sen] wants things done fast, but as technicians we must follow our techniques to ensure long-term sustainability. It’s not just getting your hands clean and looking nice for three or four months,” he said.

In an October 25 press release, the water resources ministry said an 18th typhoon will land in Cambodia on October 28 to 29. Typhoon Molave is expected to hit the provinces in the region of the Dangrek Mountain range and the northeastern plateau, including Ratanakkiri, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces. The typhoon may bring heavy rainfall and strong winds.

More rainfall is also expected in the lowland provinces, including Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin and Battambang.

According to the NCDM report, 20 provinces have been affected by floods. In those areas, 136,442 families were impacted 47,352 people were evacuated.

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