An estimated 100 households who live along canals in Prek Thi village of Kandal province have been forced to evacuate after flash floods in the upper part of the Stung Prek Tnaot River caused the banks to collapse on January 17.
Deputy provincial governor Nov Peng Chandara told The Post on January 18 that the unseasonable floods at the beginning of the year had a negative impact on the lives of some people living in the lowlands of Stung Prek Tnaot in Kandal, especially those living near the canals in Roka Kpos commune's Prek Thi village in provincial town Takhmao, just outside Phnom Penh.
“On [January 17] seven houses that were built near the canals collapsed into the water and 70 more houses were at risk. The water continued to flow strongly, causing massive landslides,” he said.
He added that at present more than 1,000 police officers from multiple units are intervening to dismantle the houses and evacuate the affected villagers to temporary shelters. Officials are studying the extent of the impact to provide an appropriate solution for the victims and families.
Yen Panh, 56, whose 7x8m wooden house collapsed into the canal at 5am on January 17, told The Post that after hearing a loud bang, he saw the canal banks collapse into the water, at which point he and his family moved out onto the road.
“That night I could not sleep. I just shed tears as I watched my house sink into the water slowly with the landslide,” he said.
He added that he built the house at a total cost of $10,000. He and his family now live in a tent along the road. He worried about what he will do now without a house or land because the land along the canal was the only property he owned and lived on for many years.
Another villager, Mok Moeurn, who was also evacuated to a safe place on January 17, told The Post that her house could collapse into the water if it was not dismantled. She said it had tilted to its side severely as the land underneath it began to slide into the river and gradually subside.
“The officials told me that I could not return home because it was too dangerous. My house did not collapse, but the authorities told me to dismantle it to avoid danger. I have not yet repaid the loan I took out to build the house. I have never seen a landslide like this before. It's the biggest collapse since 1993."
Separately, in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on January 18, five houses collapsed into the Stung Prek Tnaot River, according to local authorities.
Dangkor district governor Kim Nhep told The Post that after the water levels of Stung Prek Tnaot receded to normal levels at 10:30am on January 18, all of a sudden a group of five houses with eight families living in them in Svay Mean Leak village of Spean Thmor commune all collapsed into the water.
“In this incident, no homeowner was injured or endangered,” she said.
Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng visited the affected areas and provided first aid, food, shelter and some cash to help those in need.
He also instructed the local authorities to set up temporary shelters for the families of the victims and monitor the situation regarding landslides of the riverbanks and canals along the Stung Prek Tnaot River, especially in order to rescue people in time should these alarming incidents continue.