Floods Claim 39 Lives; Crops, Hundreds of Schools Damaged

The death toll from flooding across the country has risen to 39, while the Mekong River remains above emergency levels in Prey Veng and Kandal provinces, a government official said on Friday.

Keo Vy, cabinet chief for the government’s National Committee for Disaster Management, said that the floods, which have largely affected riparian provinces, have also decimated crops.

“About 131,259 families have been affected by severe flooding across the country,” he said. “Some 10,710 families were evacuated to higher ground, which is safer, 101,025 houses have flooded, 53 have been completely destroyed, and 39 people have died in the floods,” he added.

So far, 115,003 hectares of rice paddy and 6,637 hectares of other crops have been damaged, along with 760 schools, 353 pagodas and 45 health centers, he said.

Water levels near the Neak Leung ferry crossing in Prey Veng province’s Peamro district, and in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, have surpassed emergency levels, Mr. Vy said.

“The flooding has decreased in Phnom Penh and Kompong Cham province, but rain has flooded parts of Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Kompong Thom and Ratanakkiri provinces,” he said, adding that the Cambodian Red Cross has been offering help, along with NGOs.

Fears were mounting on Thursday that the Khmer Rouge-era Trapaing Thma dam in Banteay Meanchey would break its banks and flood nearby villages, prompting local authorities to sandbag the site.

Ouk Keorattanak, provincial administrator, said continued rainfall was doing little to quell those fears.

“We are concerned with the rain, because it is falling more and more, which is causing flooding and could break the wall of the dam,” he said.

In Kompong Speu province’s Amper Phnom resort in Chbar Mon City, an iconic wooden suspension bridge, across which tourists can visit a pagoda, partly gave way to the rising water levels on Friday, deputy provincial governor Pen Sambo said.

“Some pillars that dig into the water to support the bridge are very old,” he said, “but no one was injured or died.”

Ket Sokhom, director of the provincial tourism department, said tourists are banned from crossing the bridge until the pillars have been replaced.

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