With a week of heavy rain apparently set to end today and floodwaters across the country starting to recede, authorities fear that a missing teenager’s presumed death may be at least the fifth caused by last week’s severe weather.
Flooding has so far affected 13 provinces and Phnom Penh, according to Keo Vy, deputy director of information at the National Committee for Disaster Management. Four people have been killed and one remains missing as a result of the floods, he added.
Officials fear that the death toll could rise even further as the full extent of the damage becomes clear.
“It could be more than five deaths during the flash rainstorms,” said Mr Vy.
On Oct 11, a fisherman washed up dead in Kompong Chhnang province, and a 4-year-old boy drowned in a Phnom Penh drain, Mr Vy said. Two more people were killed on Oct 12: a fisherman in Preah Sihanouk province and a 30-year-old man who drowned after slipping into a flooded pond in Siem Reap’s Puok district.
On Saturday, a 14-year-old student from Oddar Meanchey province went missing after being swept away by floodwaters, Mr Vy added.
Song Sy was caught up in a flash flood as she walked home from school in Anlong Veng district’s Trapaing Tav commune, according to provincial Cabinet chief Chhim Savuth.
“We assume that she may have died,” Mr Savuth said.
Meteorologists expect the heavy rain to end today, said Mr Vy of NCDM, as an area of low pressure dissipates. Floodwaters have already begun to recede in most of the affected areas, he said.
“Now only Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet City and Pursat province still have flood concerns, but the water is subsiding in the other provinces,” Mr Vy said.
As of late last week, flooding had damaged 3,938 hectares of paddy and rendered 21 km of road impassable in Pursat province alone, Mr Vy said. Another 1,070 hectares of rice paddy were flooded in Kandal province, where about 1,400 homes suffered damage, he added.
A further 35 houses in Siem Reap province and 23 in Kompong Chhnang province collapsed due to the extreme conditions, Mr Vy said.
The Preak Tnout river, which cuts across Phnom Penh, Kompong Speu and Kandal provinces and which burst its banks on Saturday, is also returning to normal, he said.
“In Phnom Penh, authorities are preparing for floods in Dangkao district, which could be caused by the Preak Tnout river,” Mr Vy added.
Thirty-three excavators have been deployed at dams west of Phnom Penh since early last week in an attempt to stop water from the river reaching the city, according to Chan Yutha, Cabinet chief and spokesman for the Water Resources Ministry.
The river level has risen because of the rain and jumped by more than 1 meter on Saturday alone, he said.
“The water level along the Preak Tnout river is also decreasing after we opened the waterway [on Saturday],” he said.
Mr Yutha said officials did not believe there would be any further flooding but were nevertheless staying alert. He added that he did not think it would be necessary to evacuate residents from Dangkao district.
“The situation is now fairly good, but we are still concerned and being careful,” Mr Yutha said.
The city’s 13th pumping station, in Russei Keo district’s Svay Pak commune, came online on Saturday, according to Nouv Saroeun, director of the municipality’s drainage and sewage unit.
“Two of the five engines are operating. The Chinese technicians said they will try to make the rest work soon,” Mr Saroeun said.
Poipet City governor Try Norin said floodwaters had already drained out of the city center and into the outskirts.
“The water has already subsided…. I believe that water will dry up” today, he said.
Iev Chamroeun, Kandal provincial police chief, said yesterday that three garment workers who were electrocuted after floodwaters came into contact with electricity had recovered from their injuries.
Pursat provincial governor Koy Sokha said yesterday that people were still being evacuated from the province’s Kandieng district, a low-lying area close to the Tonle Sap. He said that he did not know exactly how many people had been moved, but thought that about 38 families were affected.
Fourteen families were forced to evacuate their homes in Pursat City last week, Mr Sokha said, but added that most of these families had already returned.
Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management at the Cambodian Red Cross, said in an e-mail yesterday that 330 families from Pursat province had been evacuated during the floods. Another 300 families in Banteay Meanchey province also had to flee from the rising waters, he added.
The Red Cross distributed aid to 337 families in Kandieng district yesterday, Mr Sam Ath said, and the organization planned to continue handing out food and supplies this week.