Villagers Survive ‘Strongest Storm Ever Seen’

samaki village, Sihanoukville – On Sunday, Nhean Nhel woke up at 2 am and was forced to flee her shaking house.

Outside, the 50-year-old wo­man was knocked down by the wind howling through her village. Nhean Nhel moved behind one of the concrete pillars on her house to shield herself. But then the house collapsed and the pillar fell on top of her.

At least 25 houses were smashed to the ground and more than 600 homes had their thatched roofs torn off in what some residents said was the strongest storm ever seen in North Sihanoukville.

Of the 13 people reported slightly injured in the storm, Nhean Nhel was one of the worst hurt, suffering a concussion and heavy bruising. She was rushed to a hospital in Prey Nop district, about 15 km away. On Sunday evening she asked her siblings to bring her back to what is left of their family home.

On Monday, with a saline drip in her right arm, Nhean Nhel groaned every few minutes, at­tended by her mother and sister.

But she knows she is lucky to be alive. Her 50-kg pig was killed by another of the house pillars when her home collapsed.

Nhean Kim, 38, said strong winds come to Sihanoukville ev­ery year, but she has never seen anything like Sunday morning.

“It is the worst storm I have ever met,” Nhean Kim said as she looked at her sister recupterating in the storm-ravaged wooden house.

Toek Laok commune medical worker Ho Poly said that at least 13 villagers were slightly injured by flying tree branches or debris while running for cover. Prey Nop’s district deputy chief, Sim Sok Heng, said that 25 houses in Samaki and Toek Laok communes and Pey Nop district were destroyed and at least 600 houses had their roofs blown off.

“This time, the storm was stronger, and it caused more da­mage than any other year,” Sim Sok Heng said.

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