Flooding Claims Lives of 3 More Children

Three children drowned in recent days, bringing the nationwide death toll to 95 in what officials and residents describe as the worst flooding to hit Cambod­ia in recent history.

In Phnom Penh, a 14-year-old Tuol Tumpong High School student drowned in front of the Royal Palace on Friday while swimming in the swollen waters with friends.

The Mekong, which has been rising steadily in recent weeks, rose to 11.13 meters in Phnom Penh, short of the 11.2 meters at which it threatens to flood the capital, officials said.

In Kompong Cham province, a 13-year-old girl drowned when her boat capsized in Batheay district over the weekend, and in Battambang, a 2-year-old boy drowned in Sangke district.

In Svay Rieng province, 300 families have been evacuated and 600 hectares of rice paddies have been deluged, provincial Gover­nor Hun Neng said Sunday.

Waters have been rising steadily in Svay Rieng town during the last five days, residents said. By Friday, water was waist-high throughout the town, and all shops, restaurants and the main market had closed.

Vendors peddled their goods from fishing boats or from hastily built, raised bamboo platforms.

Residents who could afford it have fled with their livestock and valuables to dry districts. Others huddled by the hundred wherever they could find dry land—often by the side of the highway.

The town sewers have flooded, tainting the municipal water supply, so tap water smells foul and is unusable.

The town’s hydroelectric plant is also in imminent danger of flooding, local officials said.

Touch Chandara, 33, a school teacher, said Svay Rieng town flooded in 1996, “but it wasn’t as high as this or as long lasting,” he said Friday. “It’s never been as bad as this.”

(Additional reporting by Phann Ana and Ham Sam­nang)

 

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