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Villagers Stunned by Heavy Flooding

Yin Pong’s house is still battered from the flooding, its thatch in tatters, his rice field inundated. The 44-year-old farmer from Sensan village, Stung Treng province, was one of many villagers affected by severe flooding in the province earlier this month.

In a recent interview with VOA Khmer, Yin Pong said he lost about 1 million riel, or $250, in crops, along with 10 chickens and 20 ducks, in severe flooding that affected hundreds of villagers.

“I have difficulty now,” said the father of four. “I have nothing; my rice, cucumbers, beans and sugar cane were fully damaged.”

According to villagers in Kamphun commune, the flooding started after a week of heavy rains, bringing half a meter of water into homes for four days before the water subsided four days later.

In Sesan district’s Phlok commune, not far from Kamphun, bamboo and other trees were still inundated with waters behind people’s homes.

Tuon Sim, 57, said flooding damaged his pumpkin and eggplant crops, costing him 80,000 riel, about $20.

“This was bad flooding,” he said.

One of his sons, Sim Chhairath, 15, was pale and ill, having suffered from malaria he caught fishing in the flooded fields. It was the first time he’d ever had the disease, he said.

Phlok commune chief Than Tim said eight of his 1,115 villagers incurred malaria after the flooding, which provided ideal conditions for mosquitoes.

Even before the flooding, he said, local health officials were educating villagers on how to protect themselves from the disease.

“If we did not protect our health, we would have this,” he said.

The flooding came from heavy rainfall after a typhoon hit northern Vietnam, pushing water to high levels in Cambodia that were exacerbated by the opening of floodgates of a dam on the Sekong river, in Laos, which flows through Stung Treng province.

On Aug. 2, the Ministry of Water Resources warned people living along the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Basac rivers, especially in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham, to take precautions.

All told, more than 40 hectares of paddy and 400 families were affected in Stung Treng, provincial governor Loy Sophat said. No one was killed.

Stung Treng provincial authorities planned to provide rice seeds to victims at the end of August, but he did not disclose how much of rice seed each family would receive.

Mao Hak, chief of the Ministry of Water Resources’ hydrology department, said the water levels in Stung Treng’s river rose to 9.94 meters at the height of the flooding.

The river could swell to 10.70 meters in late September, flooding more areas, he said.