Mekong River Swallows Buddhist Temple

Part of a Buddhist temple collapsed into the swirling Mekong River after strong winds and currents carved at least 30 meters away from the bank Friday.

No injuries were reported, but a concrete fence, a huge 100-year-old Boti tree and a stupa fell into the river.

“I was very shocked as the large piece of the bank collapsed very fast,” Sok Vorn, chief monk at Wat Koh Praak, said Sunday. “This was the worst collapse of the bank I have ever seen.”

At 11 am Friday, the wind began blowing strongly and shook the temple. Dirt along the bank began collapsing into the river, shortly before the temple crashed into the water.

Villagers rushed to rescue temple items from being washed away, Sok Vorn said. A dining building and the chief monk’s house were removed and are being rebuilt 80 meters from the banks of the Mekong.

In 1998, Wat Koh Praak spent about 13 million riel ($3,400) in an attempt to shore up the bank with sandbags. This year, about 3 million riel ($790) were spent to put in sandbags, Sok Vorn said.

Am Norin, deputy director of meteorology department, said Sunday that a tropical depression in China caused the Mekong to rise, but Phnom Penh is not threatened.

Sok Vorn fears the praying temple in the midst of the compound—about 10 meters from the crumbling bank—will be washed away.

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