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Some flee riverbank erosion

Some flee riverbank erosion

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The new construction site of a house in Koh Nirouth falls Thursday into the lower Mekong River.

AUTHORITIES in Nirouth commune have called on families in Koh Nirouth village to vacate their homes on the Tonle Bassac and lower Mekong riverbanks in response to rapid erosion due to flooding.

But the families of several high-ranking officials who live in the village have vowed to stay in their homes and have asked the government to help them stave off further erosion.

"Almost every day, strips of land 2 metres wide and 200 metres long are falling into the water," said commune chief Sam Phon, forcing poor families away from the riverbank.

Nhek Chhon, the Koh Nirouth village chief, said the poor families had moved to new homes in the centre of the village, adding that some had already sold their riverfront land to wealthier families.

He said some of the wealthy families' homes were also in danger of falling into the river.

Nhek Chhon suggested that the rich families were being tightfisted by asking for state assistance. "I think that they are worried about their second
homes collapsing into the water, but they don't want to pay their own money," he said.

But Sam Phon said local authorities did not have the funds to construct a barrier.

"We can stop the riverbank collapsing if we build the brick barrier to protect the homes from the current, but now we have no money to construct it," he said.

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