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Storms not done just yet

Storms not done just yet

120517_04

A man watches as a car attempts to drive through floodwaters at Phsar Kandal market in Phnom Penh last week, soon after heavy rain inundated a number of areas of the capital. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

In recent weeks, heavy storms have killed 10 people, prompting government officials to issue weather warnings, and raising the question of whether Cambodia can respond to floods like the ones that devastated the country last year.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology said in a statement yesterday the tempestuous weather should continue until Friday, and that coastal provinces and areas along the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers would be especially hard hit.

Extensive flooding last year affected more than a million people, leaving hundreds dead and many stranded without aid for weeks due to a lack of governmental and NGO co-ordination.

But those involved say that improvements have been made, pointing to more co-operation between officials and local communities and the drafting of a Disaster Management Law.

“Based on previous experience, we have conducted all measures for saving the victims,” Uy Samath, of the Cambodian Red Cross, said.

He said areas of high ground had been singled out and boats, food and clean water would be available in case an emergency struck.

Broader plans have yet to be finalised.

Hang Pham, who works on disaster reduction in Southeast Asia for the United Nations, said there were ongoing discussions on an early warning system that would alert affected residents about impending floods.

“The whole concept of prevention needs to be promoted more,” she said.

Weeks into the rainy season, the impact is already serious.

Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that as well as the 10 deaths, storms had injured 60 people, destroyed almost 700 houses and damaged many more.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kim Yuthana at [email protected]
Joseph Freeman at [email protected]

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