Pursat River Floods Rice Fields, Forces Residents From Homes

Workers in Pursat province labored yesterday to fortify the banks of a rising Pursat River to prevent severe flooding, as the government released a renewed warning of continued heavy rains across the country.

Pursat provincial governor Khoy Sokha said about 25,000 sandbags were placed along the river after rising waters forced provincial officials to declare a state of emergency Wednesday morning. Water levels in the river either dropped below emergency levels or remained stable yesterday, Mr Sokha said.

Runoff from the Oral and Kravanh mountains had initially caused the river to swell.

As of yesterday evening no one was injured by the flooding river, but it did damage two kilometers of earthen pathways and flooded more than 30,000 hectares of rice paddies in low-lying areas near the Tonle Sap lake, Mr Sokha said.

He added that around 2,300 hectares of mature rice paddy nearing harvest faced the possibility of damage if the floods persist.

“We are very concerned the rice could be damaged if the low pressure continues,” Mr Sokha said.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology announced yesterday that a low-pressure zone that has caused heavy rain and flooding in numerous provinces and Phnom Penh since Sunday night would likely continue until Monday.

Kandal, Kompong Speu, Takeo, Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap Kompong Thom, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Koh Kong, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces could be affected, and Phnom Penh will likely get rain as well.

Kandieng district was one of the worst affected areas in Pursat province. Sok Lymuth, Kandieng district governor, said 30 homes were flooded in 1.5 meters of water, forcing residents to take shelter at the homes of relatives.

Villages further removed from the riverbanks saw about 60 cm of flooding. No one was displaced, Mr Lymuth said.

Oy Sam Ath, director of the Cambodian Red Cross’ disaster management department, said the flooding in Pursat province did not require evacuations.             “The problem is not serious,” he said.

Keo Vy, deputy director of the department of information and relations for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said three deaths have been attributed to this week’s storms and the ensuing high water levels. On Tuesday, a 30-year-old man drowned after slipping into a flooded pond in the Puok district’s Yeang commune in Siem Reap, and a dead fisherman was found in Preah Sihanouk province. On Monday, a 4-year-old boy drowned in Phnom Penh.

Bati district governor Lam Veasna said National Road 2 in Takeo province remained underneath 50 cm of water yesterday, forcing motorists onto National Road 3.

Yim Chan Than, Cambodian Red Cross provincial director in Takeo province, said nearly 50 families who were holed up in a pagoda because of flooding at their homes would likely remained displaced for “three or four more days.”


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