SIEM REAP PROVINCE
STRONG storm winds destroyed 16 houses and damaged a further 44 in Siem Reap district Saturday, and a lightning strike sparked a fire that gutted one home, said Chay Soeurth, a finance officer at the provincial office of the Cambodian Red Cross.
Nuon Kresna, director of the Siem Reap Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, said his department had not issued a warning to local villagers about the possibility of a severe storm because it was a public holiday marking King Norodom Sihamoni’s birthday.
“We did not inform people because it was a holiday,” he said. “But we have told them in the past to be cautious at the beginning of the rainy season because there are usually storms and lightning.”
Orm Chorn, the chief of Nokor Thom commune, said that his commune’s residents had suffered greatly due to Saturday’s storm, which flattened 16 wooden homes and damaged the roofs of 23 others.
He added that provincial officials started handing out rice, tarpaulins and bottles of water to villagers Sunday.
Overall, Chay Soeurth said, storm damage in the province is down compared to last year. In February and May 2009 alone, 700 homes were damaged or destroyed, compared to around 100 for the whole of 2010, including those damaged on the weekend.