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Gov't Says Cambodia Facing Most Severe Flooding in Years

Villagers walk on a flooded road in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on October 14, 2020. (Malis Tum/VOA Khmer)

Severe flooding that has displaced thousands of Cambodians and killed at least 12 people across Cambodia could be some of the worst floodings the country has experienced in the last decade, said a government official.

The flooding was caused by torrential rainfall from tropical storms, and has killed at least 12 people and affected more than 30,000 households across 17 provinces nationwide, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

Water Resource Ministry’s Secretary of State Chan Youttha said the flooding was severe but that the flooding was not linked to the Mekong River, as was the case with extreme flooding in the past.

“As of now we observe this as a large-scale [flood] caused by rainfall but flooding from the Mekong River is not happening – unlike in 2011 and 2013 when floods were caused by both rainfall and Mekong spill-over,” he said.

Chan Youttha said authorities were monitoring the Prek Thnaut river in Phnom Penh and Banteay Meanchey’s Mongkul Borei and Sereysophorn rivers, which were likely to cause additional flooding.

Drivers travel through a flooded street following recent rains in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 12, 2020. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
Drivers travel through a flooded street following recent rains in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 12, 2020. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration informed its residents to brace for more flooding on Wednesday and Thursday because Thailand would release water from its reservoirs in Sa Kaeo province.

Banteay Meanchey Governor Oum Reatrey told government-aligned Fresh News that water released from Thailand could potentially inundate the entire province, including the provincial capital.

“Many would be affected,” he said. “If water is released from Thai reservoirs, on top of our already serious situation here with more water coming from [Battambang’s] Bovel district and more rainfalls expected, I think tens of thousands will be affected.”

Chhem Savuth, chief of the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, said an evacuation of some 1,600 prisoners and detainees took place on Tuesday at the Banteay Meanchey’s provincial prison, where water levels were rising.

“We can no longer control the situation of the flood [in the prison] that we need to move the prisoners,” said Chhem Savuth, adding that those prisoners would be transferred to prisons in nearby provinces.

The Water Resource Ministry warned that more tropical storms are expected from the South China Sea this week, warning of additional flooding from October 18 to 20.

According to NCDM, some 120,000 hectares of farmland had been flooded, including 80,000 hectares of rice fields.

Cambodia lost some $355 million in a 2013 flood that killed 168 people, and the flooding in 2011 killed 255 people and cost the country around $630 million.