Many Russei Keo Families Left Homeless, Exposed After Fire

Families in Phnom Penh’s Rus­sei Keo district said yesterday that the fire that blazed through Chraing Chamreh II commune on Thurs­day has reduced them to sleeping out in the open, ex­posed to the elements.

At the home of Hva Less, 45, where there once stood four walls and a roof, only a charred wooden floor remains.

“We roll out the net and sleep here,” said Mr Less, sweeping away the ashes at his feet yesterday while standing among the remains of his home.

Mr Less and his seven children were among 383 families made homeless by a massive blaze that destroyed more than 200 homes in the northern Phnom Penh district.

“It is freezing here at night. It is very cold and windy,” Mr Less said. “We help each other set up temporary houses.”

Ny Hveir, 58, was out fishing when the fire broke out.

“Only after I saw the flames and the smoke I headed home. But there was nothing left when I got back,” he said yesterday while pulling a tarpaulin over a makeshift frame where his house used to stand. “I cannot go fishing now. I have to think about shelter first.”

Chhoeng Ngan, director of the Cambodian Red Cross in Phnom Penh, said the organization is giving 50 kilograms of rice to each af­fected family, along with tents, sleeping mats, blankets and mosquito nets. Mr Ngan said the group expects to have reached all 383 families by today.

He said the families would also re­ceive 100,000 riel each, or about $25, from the government and 50,000 riel from the Cambodian Red Cross. Some families will also receive another 30,000 riel thanks to additional donations, he added.

“So each family gets at least 150,000 riel,” Mr Ngan said. “This might only [last] about a week.”

“If we get more from generous people, we would give [the families] more,” he said.

Though the arrival of the dry season has made for cold nights, Me­teorology Department director Seth Vannareth said temperatures would rise soon. “From the 19th to 22nd the low temperature is 19 degrees [Celsius], and from the 25th the temperature will go up to 21 or 22 degrees,” he said.


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