Villagers Cut Off by Floods Struggle to Cope

The death toll from flooding nationwide was increased from 167 to 172 on Friday, while efforts to ferry aid to stricken communities in 17 provinces continued and cut-off villagers struggled to cope in disastrous conditions.

One of those victims was 20-year-old Mam Yon. She gave birth to her second child on Sunday in Kompong Thom province’s Santuk district. Just 24 hours later, she died at her home, as the road to the nearest health center had become impassable from the flooding. Neighbors tried to help but were unable to locate a boat in time.

Tbong Krapoeu commune chief Keang Sengky said villagers searched for about half an hour to find a boat on Monday evening, by which time Ms Yon had al­ready died.

“The big problem was the flooding. If the road was not flooded, she could have been taken on a motorcycle trailer. She would not have died,” said Mr Sengky.

Ms Yon’s two children are now being looked after by their elderly grandmother, said Mr Sengky, adding that he had asked the provincial authority for the $500 payment promised by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the families of victims killed by the flooding.

Mr Sengky said he was due to receive the money on Friday and would offer it to Ms Yon’s family, who would use to it to buy formula milk for the newborn baby.

In the nearby village of Kal Mekh, which has also been severely flooded and cut off from many roads, there are several women due to give birth this month, added Mr Sengky.

“We have focused our attention on them and have prepared boats to get them to the health center,” he said.

Chhun Chhorn, provincial governor of Kompong Thom, said he had been told of Ms Yon’s death, but that he did not know yet exactly what had caused it. Mr Chhorn also said the provincial authority had 1,000 police and military police on standby and had boats ready to help in case of a large-scale emergency, though individual cases, such as Ms Yon, will not be responded to.

“The response unit is not for personal use, we can only prepare to help groups,” he said, adding that Ms Yon’s death “was a special case.”

“It was difficult to respond quickly,” he added.

Keo Vy, deputy director of information at the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that 303,002 hectares of rice paddy had been affected in the 17 flooded provinces, of which more than 90,000 hectares was already destroyed.

“According to the reports from each province, [flooding] de­stroyed more than 94,000 hectares of rice paddy, and will destroy more when the water subsides,” said Mr Vy.

Mr Vy added that the first fi­nancial estimates of damage to crops and infrastructure had been put between $90 million and $95 million.

Uy Sam Ath, director of the disaster management unit at the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), said 26,000 families in 16 pro­vinces had been evacuated and were in need of urgent aid.

“We have managed to give aid to 14,560 of those families, and we continue to do so,” said Mr Sam Ath.

The CRC aims to deliver aid to 757 families in Pursat province, more than 700 families in Kratie, 847 in Kompong Thom, and 1,000 families in Prey Veng between Saturday and Tuesday, Mr Sam Ath said.

“When the water recedes, the biggest problem is health care—diarrhea, typhoid, pollution of open wells. It is a cross-cutting issue, but for now we are still in the emergency phase,” Mr Sam Ath added.

Sok Touch, director of communicable disease control at the Ministry of Health, said monitoring of flooded areas is under way, but so far there had been no major outbreak.

 

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