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Phnom Penh threatened with inundation

Phnom Penh threatened with inundation

A broken water jug becomes a boat at flooded Prey Leap, across

the Chrouy Changvar Bridge from Phnom Penh

FLOODS that have been devastating Southeast Asia are predicted to get worse in the

next few days, and Phnom Penh is threatened with inundation.

By September 14, 78 people were reported dead from flooding in Cambodia and thousands

of hectares of farm land has been inundated.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was

providing disaster relief to 500,000 Cambodian victims of the flooding.

It said the flooding had started in July, when the area was drenched by double the

average rainfall, and 45 days earlier than expected.

Cambodia's neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, have all reported deaths and crop

losses as heavy monsoon rains pushed up river levels. The Red Cross said the floods

have covered 800,000 sq km of land in the four countries.

Now there are predictions that the water levels will continue to rise and even breach

the flood protection dikes that protect Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh municipality has ordered all district authorities to have their staff

on standby for flood prevention work. As the Post went to press, the river is just

over 11 meters.

Phnom Penh city starts to flood when the river reaches 11.2 meters. The water resource

and meteorology ministry predicts that by Saturday, September 16, the Mekong and

Tonle Sap will reach 11.12 meters at Phnom Penh.

So far it has been the provinces that have suffered the worst of the flooding.

Peou Samy, Secretary G

Hun Sen visits Lvea Am district in Kandal province, near Phnom Penh,

on Thursday, September 14, to give food and shelter to 2000 flood victims

eneral of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCPM),

said most victims had drowned after their boats overturned or their houses collapsed.

Some victims were killed by snake bite after the snakes fled to higher ground. Samy

said tens of thousands of hectares of crops had been destroyed.

By Thursday, September14, the official provincial death tolls were: Stung Treng one,

Kratie five, Kampong Cham, 27, Prey Veng, 19. Kandal 17, Takeo seven, and Koh Kong

one.

Cheang Am, Governor of Kampong Cham, said the death toll of 27 for his province did

not include 12 who were drowned in mid July.

He said the dike protecting the Kampong Cham town broke on Wednesday, flooding urban

areas. He is now concerned that a further rise in water level will see all of the

town under water.

So far the Government and Red Cross have distributed more than 600 tonnes of rice,

clothing, plastic sheeting for shelter, and fuel to victims of the flooding.

The agencies are now waiting to see if the situation will get worse, particularly

in heavily populated areas like Phnom Penh.

Ngo Pin, Secretary of State for Water Resources and Meteorology, said the dikes around

Phnom Penh are being monitored 24 hours a day. He said if the water level reaches

11.2 meters Phnom Penh might not be too badly affected but authorities were concerned

that it could coincide with heavy rain which would be disastrous. He said he was

most worried about areas near the Naga casino, Svay Pak and around the Russian Embassy.

Ve Cheng, deputy director of Phnom Penh Water Resource and Meteorology department

and the Phnom Penh dike, said if the water level at Kob Srov came up to 10.3 m he

would build a small retaining wall on the top of it which he hoped would protect

Phnom Penh by an additional half meter.

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