Flood Reports Spark Concern in Prey Veng

Although water levels have receded in the north and northeast, officials fighting to protect Cambodia from this year’s floods were alarmed Monday by ambig­uous reports from Prey Veng province. Meanwhile, one official put the floods’ death toll at 14.

The Mekong River Commis­sion’s Web site reported Monday morning that the entire country was out of flooding stage, with the only flood-stage levels in the en­tire region recorded across the Vietnamese border at Tan Chau and Chau Duc.

But Prey Veng officials reported that as many as 82,000 families had been “displaced,” worrying flood-relief authorities, said An­thony Spalton, head of delegation for the Inter­national Committee of the Red Cross. “If these numbers are correct, it would be enormous,” Spalton said.

Officials are unsure if the figure represents those merely “affected,” which can mean only minor in­convenience, Spalton said. To clear up the mystery, authorities from both the International and Cambodian Red Cross, along with the UN, were considering a trip to Prey Veng, Spalton said.

Though officials are still tallying flood damage estimates, at least 14 have died, said Nhim Vanda, National Com­mittee for Disaster Management first vice president.

Nationwide, the floods seemed in full retreat, authorities reported. In Stung Treng province, some villagers have already started heading home, provincial Ca­binet Chief Ourn Bora said.

Elsewhere, authorities were try­ing to come to terms with the damage. In Kratie province, more than 700 hectares of rice paddy have been destroyed and 4,000 families have been evacuated, provincial Governor Loy Sophat said. In Kompong Cham pro­vince, where there have been conflicting reports about the number of displaced, evacuees to higher ground have been given fresh water, Spalton said. Around the country, Cambodians were warned early, which may reduce the human damage, Spalton said.

“Preparedness has paid off,” he said.

Some parts of Kompong Speu province remain under drought,­ which might have greater con­sequences for Cam­bo­dia than the floods, Spalton said.

“I think the impact of the drought is going to be felt, really,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Bill Myers)


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