Thousands of families continue to be affected by relentless flooding caused by heavy rains and the opening of dams in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, causing a surge in the Mekong River in Cambodia that has inundated communities along its banks.
The floods have claimed at least 12 lives since bad weather caused by a strong high-pressure system began almost two weeks ago, bringing the total killed in floods to 23 so far this year, said Keo Vy, cabinet chief for the National Committee for Disaster Management.
There were no further deaths reported as of Wednesday evening, but since emergency water levels were surpassed last week in a total of seven provinces through which the Mekong flows, 3,669 people have been evacuated to higher ground and 15,000 homes flooded, he said.
The floods have also affected agriculture in those provinces, with more than 20,000 hectares of rice paddy and 2,300 hectares of other crops hit by the rising waters, while 7,300 cattle, mostly in Kompong Cham and Kratie provinces, have been evacuated to higher ground.
You Pasith, deputy governor of Stung Treng province, said flooding in Stung Treng City in particular was worrying authorities, adding that the Cambodian Red Cross will today provide relief parcels to victims who had been moved to safety from flooded areas.
“The water has subsided but only a little and we are still evacuating people. But the families who have been evacuated to safety are living there in very difficult circumstances without toilets or enough clean water,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday called on local authorities to be on high alert to assist those in the worst affected areas.
“I’d like to appeal to all levels of authorities to be on high vigilance to help evacuate people to safe grounds as floods have been hitting some provinces along the Mekong River,” he said.
Caroline McCausland, country director of Action Aid Cambodia, said that though more flooding was predicted in the next few days, it would likely soon taper off and Phnom Penh, where the water is nearing emergency level, would likely escape flooding on the same scale.
“We’re just beginning to gather the data at this point, but the Red Cross has been responding widely across the country and we’re asking them what the [aid] gaps are and what we [NGOs] would have to do. We are in the coordinating stage right now,” she said.
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