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Fire victims face health threats

Fire victims face health threats

091201_03
Residents could do nothing but watch as their homes burned in Russey Keo district last month. Now they face a growing threat of illness.

NEARLY 2,000 people made homeless by a residential fire in Phnom Penh say they are suffering from poor sanitation and a shortfall of medical supplies nearly a fortnight after the blaze ripped through their Russey Keo district homes on November 19.

Resident Tolas Navy, 40, said she is sleeping on a wooden bed under wall-less tents, but that exposure to cooler evenings has caused her family increasing health problems.

“My children and I have colds because we can’t handle the cold air,” she said.

Others said the lack of sanitation in the makeshift shelters was an increasing concern for the community.

“Currently, I am concerned about my villagers catching cholera and other epidemic diseases because of a lack of sanitation systems,” said Soeb Sim, 64, the chief of Kho village.

Van Thorn, Chraing Chamres II commune chief, said he had instructed the people to drink only boiled water and wear masks to protect against coughs and colds. But he called on the Ministry of Health to send staff to distribute medicine to the people.

“Our people received some tents, beds, food, blankets and mosquito nets from the Cambodian Red Cross, students’ associations and the Phnom Penh authorities, but no health officials have come to give medicine,” he said.

When contacted Tuesday, Sok Sokun, director of the Municipal Department of Health, said officials from his office would visit the affected area in the coming days.

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