A 54-year-old Preah Vihear province woman became the first casualty attributed to floods triggered by last week’s tropical storm, officials said Sunday as they were taking stock of the damages nationwide amid conflicting reports on the number of families displaced.
Chhut Heang drowned in Choam Ksan district on Aug 8 in what provincial Cabinet Chief Song Bun Leang called “the worst flooding since 1992.”
Fast-moving floodwaters knocked her down while she was wading through a drainage ditch near her home, Choam Ksan district governor Kao Lung said. Two friends nearby were unable to save her.
Ouk Damry, first vice president of the Cambodian Red Cross, which is working with the government to help the displaced, said that a total of 8,000 families, or between 32,000 and 40,000 people, have been evacuated from their homes. “It’s a big operation. It’s over the capacity of the CRC,” he said.
In Preah Vihear province alone flooding has displaced 3,000 families, Song Bun Leang said.
But other officials gave more conservative estimates.
Ly Thuch, deputy president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that a total of 1,797 families had been evacuated to higher ground from 10 districts in Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, Kratie, Kompong Cham and Stung Treng provinces. Flooding struck Preah Vihear and Ratanakkiri provinces most severely, but the worst had passed, he said.
“We are optimistic that the water is receding and that normal life will return there,” he said. “Now we are assessing the situation to plan and bring long-term rehabilitation programs to the [affected] areas.”
Nationwide, 700 homes, 4,200 hectares of rice fields, 15 roads, three bridges and a school have been damaged or destroyed, Ly Thuch said. “We are fortunate that we did not have many human casualties,” he added.
In Preah Vihear province alone, roads, bridges and an estimated 2,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged or destroyed and 100 cows drowned, Song Bun Leang said. Chey Sen, Kulen and Choam Ksan districts were the most affected, he said.
The National Committee for Disaster Management has created “disaster management working groups” in all 24 provinces to provide future assistance, Ly Thuch said. A committee tasked with providing temporary housing in case of emergencies is also now working with provincial authorities to choose high-ground areas to which people can move during flooding, he added.
Scores have died in central Vietnam since floods triggered by a tropical storm began more than a week ago.
“We’re lucky we haven’t had the problems Vietnam has,” Ly Thuch said. “We’d like to praise local authorities. They have been very quick to bring aid to victims.”