Monday, 25 October 2010 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea
AT LEAST 1,000 families moved from their homes as floods continued to wreak havoc in Banteay Meanchey province’s Serei Sophoan and Mongkul Borei districts over the weekend, as provincial officials expressed concern that waters might not recede for a week or more.
Deputy provincial police chief Chan Kosal said the families either moved to the sides of roads or to local pagodas as water levels continued to rise over the weekend.
“We are very concerned about people’s safety and their health,” he said. “We are worried that if the rains continue, they will be forced to stay longer at the roads and face many dangers to their living conditions and health.”
He said heavy rains yesterday and Saturday continued to swell water levels in areas of both districts that had already been flooded, leaving parts of National Road 5 covered in water and an untold number of hectares of rice fields damaged. In response, he said, authorities banned trucks from travelling on the road between Mongkul Borei and Sisophon districts, and within other affected towns in the province.
“Due to the current situation, I don’t think the waters will retreat within a week,” he said.
“If that is the case, it will seriously affect living conditions and national infrastructures.”
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that floodwaters had flowed from Thailand into northwest Cambodia.
“I am worried that if the floods continue until tomorrow, everyone who lives in these two districts will be affected and will need to move to safer places or pagodas,” he said.
Keo Vy, director of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that an initial report on the recent flooding, which began on October 10, would not be released until updates on the events in Mongkul Borei and Serei Sophoan districts were received.
“We are also working with relevant ministries in order to calculate the costs of the floods,” he said.
He noted that according to early reports, five people have drowned in the floods: one each in Kampong Chhnang, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk and Oddar Meanchey provinces, and one in Phnom Penh.
The unofficial death toll stands at eight, with three other deaths reported by police last week: one more each in Kampong Chhnang and Phnom Penh, and one in Kandal.
Keo Vy added that over 50 kilometres of bridges were damaged, that more than 100 houses across the country had collapsed and that more than 20,000 hectares of rice fields – including 12,000 in Pursat province alone – had been destroyed or damaged.