With only lanterns to light the darkened course of the river, residents of Kampong Cham province’s Kong Meas district were no match for the coming storm.
Just before midnight on Wednesday, the strong wind and rain battering towns and villages in three provinces, slammed into traditional Buddhist festival's boats.
The force of it capsized the vessel and pitched the passengers into the Mekong.
Rescue workers who arrived on the scene were able to pull almost everybody out, but one 20-year-old woman named Chin Kim Horng couldn’t be found until yesterday afternoon, when her body was discovered floating near the banks.
“We were all in the boat together when we met the storm,” said villager Chan Na, 52. “We fell into the water together. We could swim, but the girl couldn’t. We pity her. We couldn’t save her.”
Kim Horng, so far, is the only reported fatality from the vicious weather that moved across Kampot, Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces on Wednesday.
But officials, business owners and residents contacted yesterday observed significant structural damage to houses and were stunned at the force of the storm.
Keo Vy, head of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that most of the damage was in Kampot province. In Toek Chhou district alone, 79 houses and buildings were destroyed, three people were seriously injured and several cattle were killed.
“All local authorities are listing the destruction reported by residents,” he said.
Nak Sovannary, the governor of Kampot town, said that about 200 houses, schools and buildings were affected, and a large tree collapsed in the center of the town.
“It’s lucky that the students did not go to school, because it was a holiday,” he added.
The children of Kem Khey, a tour guide in Kampot town, also stayed home. “Yesterday [Wednesday], what happened, I’ve never seen it before,” Khey said.
His children were crying as rain and wind ripped off parts of the roofs of some houses in the Krang village, where they live.
People who could afford it, immediately set to fixing their roofs. “Because if it rains again,” Khey said, “They won’t be able to sleep.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at [email protected]