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Thousands evacuated from Stung Treng due to floodwaters from Laos dam

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Cambodian soldiers evacuate residents by boat from the floodings in Stung Treng province on Thursday. The torrent of water unleashed in a deadly Laos dam collapse has drained into Cambodia, forcing thousands to evacuate, as rescuers battled monsoon rains to find scores of Laotians still missing after entire villages were washed away. afp

Thousands evacuated from Stung Treng due to floodwaters from Laos dam

About 5,000 people living in Siem Pang district in Stung Treng province were taken to safety following the flooding triggered by the collapse of a hydropower dam in neighbouring Laos.

Stung Treng provincial governor Mom Saroeun told The Post on Thursday that rescue workers managed to bring all victims trapped in the floods to high ground.

Authorities are now providing medicines and basic necessities such as food, mosquito nets and drinking water.

The authorities said a total of 1,289 families were affected on the Cambodian side after the dam tragedy on Monday evening, which also displaced about 3,000 people and killed at least 26 in Laos.

The Stung Treng province is in the northern part of Cambodia and located about 50 kilometres away from the Laos border.

The Ministry of Water Resources said until 3:10pm on Thursday, the water level of Sekong River rose up to 12.10 metres, surpassing the danger level of 11.50 meters.

National Committee of Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Keo Vy said: “At 5pm on Thursday the number of evacuees might change as the water level was still rising and I have not received the latest figures yet.”

The situation in Siem Pang district was grim as well. Phen Bunthoeun, Stung Treng Programme Unit Manager of Plan International Cambodia, said houses were flooded and people had to vacate.

“Our findings show that 562 families living in Santepheap and Thmor Keo communes are desperately waiting for emergency assistance such as tents, food, clean water and items related to sanitation,” he said.

Bunthoeun said there was a critical shortage of clean water. Rescue workers have asked local authorities to supply it in containers apart from providing additional tents too.

Vy said NCDM’s one-year assistance for flood victims includes 10,000 tonnes of rice, 2,000 tonnes of rice seeds and 50 tonnes of crop seeds, while financial aid will only be given if there is a request.

“These numbers are usually allocated for emergency cases but in the last few years, we have never used them because the provincial authorities managed to cover the expenses."

“The financial package is under a special government allocation and once the situation is severe, the prime minister will authorise the allocation,” he said.

Vy said in Kratie province, once the Mekong River’s water level reaches 20 meters high, it is considered dangerous as it could flood the low land areas. On Thursday, the water level was recorded at 20.16 metres.

If the water level touches 22 meters, he said it is considered alarming for the Mekong River in Kratie Province.

“Some low land areas – Dam Pout and Dam Lahong – have since submerged due to the rising water,” he said.

Vy said the ministry had issued a warning to the people living along the low land areas to quickly harvest their crops before the flood arrives.

A previous version of this story incorrectly state that "About 25,000 people living in Siem Pang district in Stung Treng province were taken to safety..." In fact, it's just 5,000 people. The Post apologies for any confusion caused.

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