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Stung Treng and Kratie hit by high water

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A view of the Don Sahong Dam in southern Laos, just across the border from Stung Treng province. Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman Mao Hak said the dam is not to blame for high waters in Stung Treng and Kratie. Kimberley McCosker

Stung Treng and Kratie hit by high water

Local chiefs in Stung Treng province claimed on Monday that the Mekong River has risen by almost 2m, submerging floating cabins at a local tourist attraction, while in Kratie province, a police chief said the water level has risen by 0.5m, flooding Kampi Resort.

Preah Romkil commune police chief Loeng Thary said although none were injured, 64 families who live along the riverside could be affected.

Vendors at Kbal Koh Lngor, a popular tourist attraction in Thala Barivat district’s Preah Romkil commune, have moved their wares to the mainland and visitors have been banned from sitting in the floating cabins.

Thary said the area has been flooded for four or five days and he theorised that, due to heavy rainfall in Thailand, water was flowing into Laos, forcing it to open a hydropower dam’s floodgates and causing water to discharge into Cambodia.

“I am not certain that the water is coming from Thailand or Laos, but Thailand has experienced heavy rain. Some areas are flooded and they allow the water to flow into Laos."

“Therefore, Laos releases water into Cambodia. This is merely my conclusion and I am not clear about it as yet. Let them investigate first,” Thary said.

Sorn Pan, Anlong Svay village chief and an Irrawaddy dolphin ranger in Preah Romkil commune, said the water at Kbal Koh Lngor had risen about 2m, causing inconvenience but not injuring anyone so far.

He said the Irrawaddy dolphins are safe but, if the water becomes contaminated, they might be affected as well.

He expressed concern that if the water rises further, it will affect people living along the river.

“At the moment it is not having much effect and the vendors have just removed their wares, but we are afraid the river might continue to rise,” he said.

Hou Sam Ol, Stung Treng provincial coordinator of rights group Adhoc, said he was unaware about the matter but added that flooding usually only happens in the rainy season.

In Kratie province, Chitr Borei deputy district police chief Bun Narith said the water level at Sambok commune’s Kampi Resort has risen about 0.5m.

He appealed to local and international tourists and vendors to stop visiting and close businesses until the water recedes.

“The water has risen only at the Kampi lake. About 100 cabins where tourists sit and relax have been flooded. Some people have moved out but some are waiting for the water to recede. It might not last long. It will recede. No one has been hurt,” Narith said.

Taing Teng, the provincial director of the Water Resources and Meteorology department, said he had received information about the area and has requested experts to inform people living there to be cautious.

He said the water had only risen about 2mm and only over the last two or three days. However, he said that in the Sesan area, water usually surges and recedes when the hydropower dam opens and closes its spillway.

“As for the source of the water, we only know it is not from within our borders, but we are not clear whether it comes from Laos, Thailand or even China."

“We know that water sometimes comes from Laos but I don’t know if Laos has opened the dam or not. We need to investigate first,” he said.

Mekong River Commission spokesman Meas Sopheak said on Monday: “I have contacted the technical group already and I hope we will receive information soon.”

Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman Mao Hak said the river had only risen a small amount and there was no serious impact. When it rains in some areas of Laos and Thailand, he said, rainwater flows into Cambodia.

He said when the hydropower dam is opened or closed, countries located along the Mekong River inform each other.

“The hydropower dam has not been closed or opened. The water flowing into Cambodia is not dangerous and does not cause problems,” he said.

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