Three Cambodians drowned in Ratanakkiri province last week when water from a hydroelectric dam on the Vietnamese side of the Se San river was unexpectedly released, according to Cambodian officials.
Last week, officials said the sudden burst of water affected hundreds of farms in the area, but did not mention any fatalities.
But on Thursday, Ratanakkiri First Vice Governor Vorn Chhunly said it was “very clear that three Cambodian fishermen drowned [from the La Ly Dam on the Vietnam side of the border].” He added that the victims, all at least 30 years of age, were apparently asleep in their boat at the time.
Vorn Chhunly said a total of about 200 farming families were affected and fishing equipment was swept away in Taveng, Veun Sai and Andong Meas districts.
Chudong Loc, a Vietnamese Embassy spokesman, acknowledged Thursday that water was released but insisted a warning was issued beforehand. He added that Vietnamese officials question the veracity of the reports that three deaths resulted from the release from the dam and suspect Cambodian officials have exaggerated the property damage.
Vorn Chhunly denied receiving any warning of the water release.
Officials at the Mekong River Commission said Thursday they were contacting Vietnamese officials to discuss the issue.