Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Floods leave 18 dead; 1.2 million affected

Floods leave 18 dead; 1.2 million affected

Floods leave 18 dead; 1.2 million affected

flood.jpg
flood.jpg

Eighteen people have died and more than a million have been affected by flooding

in provinces along the Mekong River, the National Committee for Disaster Management

(NCDM) said August 29.

Workers fill sandbags in Kampong Cham town in late August as the Mekong River peaked. Officlals said water levels had dropped over the past few days, but warned September could see more flooding.

Nhim Vanda, first vice-president of NCDM, told the Post around 1.2 million people

in five provinces - Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Kandal and Prey Veng - had

suffered from the floods. He said Prey Veng was the worst hit as the waters had been

very slow to recede. He said 500,000 flood victims had been forced from their homes

to higher areas.

"We have given them rice, medicine and clean water," he said, and warned

that "People might face shortages of food and hygienic drinking water if the

floods continue for a long time."

Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) have appealed for donations

for flood victims, as well as for those suffering from the drought which is still

affecting some areas.

Antony Spalton, head of delegation at the International Federation of the Red Cross,

said an international appeal for Cambodia's flood victims would be launched in co-operation

with NCDM, CRC and other NGOs, probably at the end of next week.

"But we need to have more time to clarify people's actual needs," he said.

"At the moment we are focusing on the flood."

Spalton said his main concerns were the provision of clean drinking water to prevent

outbreaks of diseases like diarrhea, and the impact of the floods on future food

production.

"I am worried that if the river produces more water in September like [the flood]

in 2000, then these people could be in the same area for many weeks."

Both Nhim Vanda and officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

said they were currently unable to ascertain the precise extent of the flood damage.

And they cautioned that the drought would still be a serious problem, despite the

rain and flooding. The country's worst affected province, Kampong Speu, has received

some rainfall but the rainy season is nearly over and people are facing difficulty

finding seedlings for their rice fields. CRC said in a statement on August 24 that

only 37 percent of the area normally cultivated to grow rice in Cambodia has been

sown.

Pen Navuth, director of the Hydrology and River Works Department at the Ministry

of Water Resources and Meteorology, said the flooding was due to torrential rains

and water flow from Laos and China.

He said it began in the third week of August, but was now dropping. On August 29

the water level in Stung Treng had fallen to 9.9 meters, down from 11.53 meters.

In Kratie it was 21.27 meters from 22.49 meters, and in Kampong Cham province 15.44

meters from 15.92 meters. He warned the floods could return again in the third week

of September.

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