Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) to be ready to respond to flooding in the provinces bordering Thailand, after rising water levels reached dangerous mark.
The instructions were issued after remarkable water level rises in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap provinces in recent days, in line with recent patterns of rainfall.
NCDM first vice-president Kun Kim said on August 29: “The prime minister has ordered me to … be ready to offer assistance in the event that flooding takes place, especially where it threatens people’s lives. It is our solemn duty to ensure their safety. We will prioritise the people’s safety over any material concerns, and will not hesitate to evacuate anyone who is in danger,” he said.
During an inspection visit to Preah Vihear province on August 28, Kim observed that the water level has risen from 11m to 11.5m – an irregular level that warrants caution.
“Unexpectedly, it’s swollen 0.5m in just one morning, which is alarming. The authorities are standing by to rescue the most vulnerable of our citizens should water levels grow any higher,” he said.
He stressed that the provincial disaster management committee would work closely with the general secretariat to monitor progress and would communicate any warnings deemed necessary.
At the same time, he called on people not to believe the claims of some individuals that flooding was occurring everywhere. No emergency announcements had been made at this time, he added.
“Those who claim that there is flooding everywhere are spreading misinformation. I have personally inspected Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces, and none of them is yet at risk. The local authorities are managing the current circumstances well,” he said.
You La, director of the Kampong Thom provincial Department of Water Resource and Meteorology, said that as of August 29, the high water level mark in the Stung Sen River had reached 13.51m for the second time, but this was only a cautionary level and not yet considered an emergency.
“We are announcing the high levels to remind people to exercise caution. The current levels are lower than those we experienced recently, so there is nothing to worry about at this stage,” he said.
He added that monsoon rain would not cause a problem, although a large low pressure system or heavy storm could become an issue.
Khim Finan, the governor of Banteay Srei district in Siem Reap province, announced on August 28 that rain in recent days had swollen the levels of the Banteay Srei River, but it was still a long way from emergency levels.
At the same time, he called on residents, especially those living along the river and in the foothills of the Kulen Mountains, to be aware of the risk of flash floods and exercise proper caution.
In Preah Vihear province, 15 out of 40 households in Samrong, Phum Thmei and Damnak villages in the provincial town’s Kampong Bronak commune were evacuated to safety, as they experienced minor flooding.