No More Rain in Phnom Penh, but Flooding Remains

Missing Preah Sihanouk fisherman found alive, returned home

Lingering flooding in some areas of Phnom Penh from Sunday and Monday’s rainstorms shuttered businesses, closed schools, swamped streets and left vendors with few, if any, customers.

But while heavy rains across the country placed emergency services on high alert Monday, easing conditions yesterday brought some relief.

A fisherman who went missing Sunday in Preah Sihanouk province was rescued and returned home late Monday, provincial police chief Tak Vantha said yesterday, adding that the man had taken refuge on an island.

“In Sophal was returned home [Monday] night,” Mr Vantha said. “Now, we do not have any reports of death, injuries or missing from the heavy rain.”

Mr Vantha said rain was still falling yesterday in Preah Sihanouk province, but he said it was lighter than on Sunday and Monday.

He added that a stranded Vietnamese fisherman was found on a Preah Sihanouk province beach yesterday.

According to Mr Vantha, the man told authorities 32 Vietnamese fishermen had gone missing at sea after their boat sank. Mr Vantha added that Vietnam was coordinating the rescue effort.

Meanwhile, in Phnom Penh, sections of the city’s Tuol Kok district were knee-deep in water yesterday morning, forcing many businesses and vendors to call it a day before the day even started.

Khieu Phirun, who sells clothing and operates a private phone on Street 315, sat cross-legged on a wooden table with water from the flooded street lapping at the concrete beneath him.

The 43-year-old’s business was closed yesterday, but Mr Phirun said he would open today if flooding subsided. As he spoke, a fish swam in circles inside a flooded hole in the sidewalk beside him.

Just a few meters away, Chuor Sokear, a 20-year-old food vendor, said she had sold about half as many plates of pork and rice as usual.

“Usually, people sit around eating food at the tables,” she said as a stack of plastic chairs, bundled umbrellas and folded metal tables stood behind her.

Down the block, Indra Devi High School was closed due to flooding. The school’s deputy director, Nou Vuthy, said classes could resume today, barring further flooding.

Nouv Saroeun, director of the drainage and sewage unit at the municipal public works department, said yesterday’s flooding was confined to Phnom Penh’s low-lying areas.

He said there were no problems with the city’s 12 operating pumping stations, adding that a 13th station in the Russei Keo district remained under construction.

“Areas around pumping stations are experiencing floods,” Mr Saroeun said yesterday. These include Boeng Trabek commune in Chamkar Mon district, the area surrounding the Boeng Tompun pumping station in Meanchey district and sections around the pumping stations in Tuol Kok district, he said.

He said four of the 12 pumping stations were operating, while eight others were not needed because drainage canals were funneling the water to the river.

However, Mr Saroeun said floodwaters could still flow from Kompong Speu province into Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district near the airport.

Kompong Speu provincial police chief Keo Pisey said rain was falling yesterday in his province, but said flooding was not expected.

“Still, there are no floods,” he said, “and the water level is normal.”

Khieu Kosal, of the city’s drainage and sewage unit, said workers were installing electrical components yesterday that would power Russei Keo’s pumping station. He said the installation should finish soon, adding that he was waiting for the go-ahead from his superiors to activate the pumping station.

“This water would be gone in a few hours if we pump,” Mr Kosal said.

Weather hasn’t affected air traffic at Siem Reap or Phnom Penh international airports, according to a joint statement released yesterday by the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation and the Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports in response to media reports that flights had been canceled Monday due to poor visibility.

   (Additional reporting by Phann Ana)


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