Evacuations Planned as Tropical Storm May Flood Preah Vihear

Authorities in Preah Vihear province are preparing to evacuate families living along the Stung Sen River as the eighth tropical storm to strike Southeast Asia this year will likely push the waterway over its edge.

As of on Monday, the Stung Sen—a tributary to the Tonle Sap River—stood at 11.4 meters deep at a key measuring point near the provincial capital, and if the water breaches 11.5 meters, Preah Vihear City and the districts of Tbeng Meanchey, Chey Sen and Rovieng will likely face floods, said provincial governor Un Chanda.

“The Stung Sen [river] is rising up strongly, and people who are living along the stream will get flooded in the next few days,” he said.

Mr. Chanda did not yet know how many people would need to be evacuated, but anyone living along the river would experience flooding, he said.

“Our local authorities have asked people today to take care and prepare their belongings before the flood,” he said. “We have already prepared safety hills and some food for the people when they are evacuating from the flood.”

Water Resources Ministry spokesman Chan Youtha said the ministry had also warned authorities in Preah Vihear to prepare to deploy speed boats for rescues and to send military police forces to assist in evacuations.

“We have already informed the provincial authority to prepare to rescue people living along the Stung Sen because some areas in Preah Vihear will get flooded because of the storm,” he said.

Sonca, the eighth tropical storm to hit Southeast Asia this year, is expected to hit the Mekong River basin on Wednesday.

The storm will bring heavy rains between Wednesday and Thursday to 15 provinces primarily in the north and east, including Preah Vihear, according to a statement from the Water Resources Ministry.

Regions near the sea will also experience heavy rains and strong winds for the next three days, according to the statement, which was released on Monday.

Mr. Youtha said the coming rains would raise the Mekong River’s water level, but he did not yet have any estimates for rainfall.

“We have seen the water level has decreased in the past few days, but after the eighth storm, the water levels of the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers are rising,” he said.

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