Floods Destroy Buildings on Eroding Island

Years of erosion on an island in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district have caused a temple and school to collapse, leaving residents no place to pray and forcing kids to study at their teachers’ homes.

Children stopped going to school in the six-classroom building built on the edge of Koh Prak, located in the Mekong River, two weeks ago when residents no­ticed it was falling apart.

The building finally collapsed last Thursday, and since then, hundreds of school children have been attending classes at the homes of their 15 teachers.

According to a report released last week by the National Com­mit­tee on Disaster Management, the country has suffered nearly $6 million in flood damages across seven provinces in recent weeks, including about 2,800 houses flooded, with 45 completely destroyed.

Two of Hen Pich’s five children attended the school that fell apart, which cost more than $20,000 to build. Now she and other residents are trying to raise enough money to construct another building in the central part of the island where there is less danger that it will collapse from erosion.

Tep Nannory, governor of Kandal province, said a provincial education committee is considering building a new school for the villagers of Koh Prak, but there are disagreements on where it should be constructed.

“I had reported this matter to the Ministry of Water Resource, the Ministry of Education and other ministries since last year, but I haven’t heard anything from them,” Tep Nannory said.

The only thing left of the school and Wat Prak temple is the foundation. The walls have crumbled to the ground, leaving piles of bricks and concrete on the ground.

The erosion has caused the island to shrink little by little each year, prompting residents to move away, said Seng Chea, a Kien Svay district police officer who lives on the island. Now just more than 800 residents live on the island.

“Maybe years down the road, this island will disappear,” he said.

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