Around 100 meters of road has cracked open in Prey Veng near a riverside that has seen heavy rains and houses tumbling into the water.
Pea Reang district’s Kampong Popil commune saw five days of rain last week, including two days of a heavy downpour, said commune police chief Theng Bunleng.
A road leading to Preaek Kamphleung village began to crack, and by Friday it was split open. Across around 100 meters, the road was broken on both edges, with the damage sometimes crossing through the middle of the pavement. Some parts of the roads have bulged, while large holes prevent cars from traveling across. Construction crews will need to pull up the whole stretch to repair it, Bunleng said.
“It was like a natural disaster that sank the land,” he said.
Provincial public works department director Un Sothea said the land was unstable near local stream Tonle Touch due to steep riverbanks and recent heavy rain.
“It happens near the riverside, so everything is caused by the rain, even the collapse of people’s houses,” Sothea said.
Two weeks earlier, three houses had slid into the river.
Kov Vannak, 47, said her husband first noticed the ground in front of their house showing cracks around 4 a.m. on January 1. He also heard a sound coming out of the earth: “peng, peng,” Vannak said. When her husband went down to see, he saw the house’s concrete floor also cracking.
Worried, he disconnected a beam connecting the main house to a kitchen closer to the river, and moved some things out of the house.
Vannak was in Phnom Penh at the time, and returned home on January 2 to find the ground splitting wider and wider.
Around 11 a.m. on January 2, the family began taking more of their possessions out of the house. Then, she used the kitchen to make lunch, but the house started to slide soon after.
“We started to rush to transport our goods out,” Vannak said. “But at that time it was too fast. It was only 30 minutes from when the home gave us the signal.”
Two neighboring houses, built of wood, slid into the water first. Their metal-sheet roofs that extended from their houses for shade made a crashing sound as they fell in.
“I heard the sound from my house — Pang! Pang! — and I felt like they were counting, one, two, three to lift up the house. Like an earthquake it trembled three times, and the house started to sink into the river.”
The house was gone by 2 p.m., she said. It was a loss of $38,000 for her family, and now she was staying with her sister.
Vannak said she had not received a good explanation for why her house had fallen into the river.
Commune police chief Bunleng denied there was any sand-dredging activity nearby that could have contributed to the landslip. He said it was simply a “natural” matter of an unruly river.
“The house is close to the river and the riverbank is steep. It slid into the river as the riverbank is close to the river,” he said.