Two pagodas, one each in Tbong Khmum and Kampong Cham provinces, were affected by a riverbank collapse, which is generally caused by upper stream currents that surge during floods.
The head of the Department of Hydrology and River Works at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Yin Savuth, said when water starts to recede, the underground layer of the riverbank becomes soft.
“This condition is caused by erosion at the upper ground layer, especially at the slope of the riverbank.”
Wat Rokathom in Tbong Khmum district’s Chiror 1 commune, in Tbong Khmum province, was badly affected by the riverbank collapse. Local authorities and Buddhist followers, including monks, nuns and clergymen of the pagoda, are deeply concerned about the situation.
Local authorities said two monasteries and some dining rooms collapsed on Wednesday.
Chiror 1 commune chief Toek Lang told The Post that for now, the villagers and authorities, including the pagoda commission, had torn down the dining rooms to move them to a new location as the old one collapsed into the river.
“For the safety of the monks, nuns and clergymen at the pagoda, we need to demolish and move all the dining rooms, as well as the monastery, out of the collapse-prone location. We have no means to prevent the riverbank from collapsing,” he said.
The pagoda vicinity originally covered an area of 110m by 95m. Now the remaining land is only 40m by 95m due to a series of floods and erosions. Riverbank collapses this year have been wider than previous years and have occurred three times since July, he said.
Pagoda commission chairwoman Pich Sun told The Post that with support from the residents, local authorities and the Department of Religions and Cults, the 6m by 10m wooden monastery for the chief monk of the pagoda had been moved away from a dangerous location.
As for the monasteries made from cement, they were demolished because they faced danger of collapse.
“For now, we have a little relief after the building of the chief monk was moved out of the danger site to a safe location next to the temple,” she said.
On Wednesday morning, the residents and local authorities continued to help move another dining room and another building out of the dangerous site to a location near the temple, she said.
Venerable monk Kear Sokhun, the chief monk appealed to the authorities at all levels, police, and donors to help stop the collapse.
Tbong Khmum district governor Seng Sokhoeun said concerning the Mekong riverbank collapse at the pagoda, the authorities had immediately requested the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to help rescue it.
“We are also ready to find a new location on the side of the road, about 300-400m from the present pagoda in Rokar Thom village,” he said.
Another pagoda called Tham Yutha Chong Roka pagoda along the Mekong River in Koh Sotin district’s Koh Sotin commune, Kampong Cham province was also facing a similar disaster.
Koh Sotin commune deputy police chief Lo Seang Hut told The Post on Wednesday that for now, two pillars from the temple have fallen into the river. The pagoda’s clergyman commission, the monks and relevant authorities removed Buddhist statues from the temple.
“We are very regretful that we have no means to stop the river bank from collapsing. It affects the temple which has more than 100 years of history. We’ve only removed and relocated our pagoda from the riverside,” he said.
Savuth said the two cases of riverbank collapse were not caused by any sand-dredging business.
For now, he said specialists are collaborating with the local authorities to inspect the site to plan repair work which would probably commence in the dry season.