At Least 4 More Die in Banteay Meanchey Flooding as Thai Dam Spills Over

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Emergency workers deliver supplies to flooded families in Mongkol Borei district in Banteay Meanchey province on October 19, 2020, in a photo posted to the provincial administration’s Facebook page.
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Banteay Meanchey province has recorded at least 14 deaths out of the country’s 25 total flood fatalities, with authorities blaming an upstream dam in Thailand for the extra damage.

That is up from 10 deaths in the province on Friday, according to local officials.

The provincial and national levels again diverged on the exact number of fatalities. Chhun Buntha, an official at the provincial secretariat of disaster management, told VOD that 14 were people killed and one was missing. The National Committee for Disaster Management reported 15 deaths in the province as of Monday afternoon. 

Buntha said Thai authorities had warned that they would open a dam in the country’s Sa Kaeo province, and though they have not yet opened the gates, water was spilling out of the dam and flooding Cambodia’s streams.

“Authorities have also informed people, but they did not come out [of their homes], and they thought it would be minor flooding and that it would be OK,” he said.

The disaster management department deployed a working group to help evacuate people trapped in the floodwaters, Buntha said.

“We are still worried because [water] still keeps rising and it may affect health and infrastructure,” he said.

Water Resources Ministry spokesperson Chan Yutha said water started spilling from Thailand’s Huayang dam on Saturday, flooding homes, health centers and the Thmar Pouk district hall. 

He said the water level in Ou Kambot stream opposite Thmar Pouk district — one of several streams and channels impacted by water spilling over from the dam — receded by half a meter by Sunday, though the border district and others will continue to feel the impact. 

“Even at this level, the water is still a lot,” Yutha said. “The water will continue to flow to Svay Chek district and some part will flow to Thmar Pouk and down to the Trapaing Thmar reservoir.” 

More than 22,000 families in the province had been affected by flooding, with 3,545 families evacuated from their homes, according to a report from the National Committee for Disaster Management released on Monday afternoon. Some 118 schools had been affected by floods throughout Banteay Meanchey province, as well as 56 pagodas and nine hospitals, the report said. 

Battambang was the next most impacted province, the report said, with 15,862 families affected. 

Nationwide, 19 of Cambodia’s 25 provinces had been hit by floods, affecting 78,056 families and killing 25 people, according to the committee. 

Yutha said another storm was coming this week, but he did not believe the results would be as severe in the rest of the country, adding that Phnom Penh’s Kampong Toul dam near National Road 3 had already receded more than 1 meter.

Additional reporting by Ouch Sony

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