B Meanchey Prison Floods; ‘Practically Zero’ Chance Typhoon Hits Cambodia

Flooding at Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison has left 848 inmates without toilets for a week, raising health concerns and causing prison officials to call on NGOs for help, a provincial police chief said yesterday.

Although heavy rains are no longer pounding the province, floodwaters from Thailand have inundated the prison, where all three buildings are surrounded by rising waters. Five generators have been running day and night to keep the floodwaters from swamping cells, but water is still seeping up through toilets and drains.

“Our police are concerned about the prisoners’ health conditions with the floodwaters,” Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean said yesterday.

Now nearly a meter deep, the flooding began Oct 15. Prison officials have used concrete blocks to keep the water out of the buildings.

Human rights NGO Licadho has supplied each prisoner with two plastic bags for their feces since Oct 18. Those bags are then placed in a larger plastic bag, said Chea Sothea, a Licadho representative in Banteay Meanchey.

Heng Hak, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, said yesterday he was too busy to comment. Acting prison chief Pean Chorvorn could not be reached.

Typhoon Megi continued to travel north yesterday toward China, where it was expected to make landfall by Saturday, having resulted in the deaths of at least 15 as it swept across the northern Philippines earlier this week.

Chan Yutha, spokesman and Cabinet chief of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, refuted statements made earlier this week that the typhoon would strike Cambodia’s coastal region over the weekend.

“For me, I think there is no problem with [Typhoon] Megi,” Mr Yutha said yesterday, adding, “It has no affect on Cambodia.”

Adam Lea, research fellow at University College London working with the UK-based research consortium Tropical Storm Risk, said in an e-mail that Megi’s chances of affecting Cambodia were “practically zero.”

“If it hits the Chinese coast it will move inland and dissipate rapidly. If it re-curves towards Taiwan it may or may not hit the island and will then likely move out over the open ocean,” he wrote.


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