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House collapses into river, others removed

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An official inspects the damage caused by a landslide on the bank of the Tonle Bassac river that caused a house to collapse and eight others to be dismantled on Saturday in Kandal province. Photo supplied

House collapses into river, others removed

One home collapsed into the Tonle Bassac river on Saturday in Kandal’s Sa’ang district, while two others are at risk of collapse and eight others had to be dismantled and moved across the road, away from the riverbank, officials said yesterday.

Ministry of Mines and Energy officials inspected the area, which is near where a local company is sand dredging, though one suggested dredging was not the cause.

Raka Khpos commune police chief Khun Narith said the affected families’ homes had been relocated to safety to prevent them falling into the river as well. Two others face a risk of collapse, but are so close to the bank’s edge they can’t be safely moved, he said.

Narith said in the last three years, the area had experienced one other bank collapse, adding that sand dredging activities are taking place about 1 kilometre away from where the landslide occurred.

Local company Leng Chin has been extracting sand, ministry officials confirmed yesterday, but company representatives did not return a request for comment.

Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Dith Tina yesterday said ministry officials were working with local authorities and a technical team to investigate the incident in order to understand the root cause of the collapse, as well as find a resolution.

“It’s difficult to judge whether it is caused by sand dredging, but it’s [unlikely] because the dredging license was issued precisely to save the riverbank from collapse by modifying the existing geomorphologic behavior of the river,” he said in an email. “The accident area is erosion-sensitive as they mentioned that bank failures occur annually, even when there was no sand dredging.”

Raka Khpos commune chief Chhoeun Chhou said commune and provincial authorities are working to determine which of the affected families own other plots of land elsewhere, where they can build new homes. Authorities may consider granting a social land concession for families that don’t own any other pieces of land, he said.

However, he said that officials were still discussing the plan.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

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