Floods in Northwest as Hun Sen Issues Riverbank Collapse Warning

People living along the banks of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers should exercise caution in the coming days, and be particularly aware of possible riverbank collapses as water levels are rising in Stung Treng province and elsewhere in the country, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday.

In a wide-ranging, two-and-a-half hour address to villagers in Kandal province, which was broadcast on most TV channels, Mr. Hun Sen spoke at random about his late father, agriculture, the current political situation, the potential for instability and the level of the Mekong River in Stung Treng province, which is currently at about 9.24 meters. It is expected to rise to 9.95 meters by Monday, which is still below the flood level of 10.7 meters.

“Now we are concerned about flood as now the water is flowing from Thailand to Banteay Mean­chey province,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

“People living along the Mekong River bank lying from Stung Treng to the border with Vietnam, including those living along the Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers, should pay attention and be careful of the high risk of bank collapse.”

In Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet commune, heavy rainfall that started last week has caused severe flooding, which has inundated the homes of hundreds of families, commune chief Kong Sok said Thursday.

Six schools, four pagodas and 2 hectares of rice paddy have been damaged by floodwaters in the commune, Mr. Sok said, adding that people are largely stranded in their villages as roads are flooded.

“People are finding it too difficult to travel in the commune. They can’t get to the market to sell food and clothing because of the flooding,” he said.

Kuy Heng, chief of Balelay Muoy village, said the rains started on Monday and have yet to stop.

“Floodwater has flowed into villagers’ homes and has created difficulty,” he said.

Local authorities are attempting to ease the flooding by digging an irrigation channel that would link the flooded area with a river near the Thai border, which would help to redirect the floodwaters.

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