Almost 200 tourists had to be rescued by helicopters and boats yesterday after rapidly rising flood waters trapped them inside the historic Banteay Srei temple, which lies near Siem Reap city.
Banteay Srei district chief Mong Vuthy said 183 tourists from the United States, Germany, England, China, Korea and Japan were rescued from the temple, a popular tourist site that lies around 20 kilometres northeast of the Angkor Wat complex.
Sayon Sokha, a tuk-tuk driver who was trapped with the group, said: “When I was driving my guests to the temple, the water levels were normal, however, only three hours later water levels increased rapidly.”
Residents in the surrounding area were forced to climb onto rooftops and scale trees as the Siem Reap River inundated the area with water, which was at points 1.5-metres high, Mong Vuthy said. “We tried to save villagers who climbed up onto the roof of their houses.
“We also received emergency intervention from Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin and member of parliament Seang Nam to use helicopters to save the lives of villagers who were trapped in high places,” he said.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Chan Yutha said that one man had drowned and two others were missing in the area yesterday after they were seen attempting to cross a flooded road on their motorbike.
Noun Krissna, chairman of the provincial department of water resources, said that Banteay Srei district received 200 millimetres of rain causing the Siem Reap River to overflow.
“We are waiting until tomorrow to see if the water level of the river continues to rise,” the chairman said.
In that case, he said authorities would begin to use heavy machinery, such as bulldozers and excavators, to create relief trenches along the river in an attempt to ease flooding.
A report released yesterday by the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology predicted more rain until at least Monday, as a low pressure system moves into the northern regions of Cambodia today.
“Authorities in the provinces should warn the people, particularly those near bodies of water, to be highly careful to avoid accidents,” the report said.
As other areas around the Kingdom continue to be ravaged by flooding, Minister of Water Resource and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor added that he was sending officials to the most affected regions to examine the damage.
He said approximately 56,000 hectares of rice paddies across the Kingdom were now in danger of being ruined due to the rising flood waters.
“Kampong Thom is the most affected province,” said the minister.
Ra Depoun, a village chief in Kampong Thom province’s Prasat Sambor district, said yesterday that 97 percent of the rice paddies surrounding his village would be destroyed if the water did not quickly subside.
Conditions for evacuees in the province have been highlighted as a concern.
On Wednesday, officials said some who had left their homes were suffering diarrhoea and colds. The Red Cross, Caritas and World Vision are providing aid.