Riverbanks at a stream near the Bassac river in Takhmao city collapsed over the weekend, damaging a Khmer-Chinese temple and pavement near the provincial city hall.
Land on both sides of Stung Prek Tnaut, where the stream meets the Bassac river in Takhmao, Kandal, started sinking around May 6, according to eyewitnesses, and collapsed into the stream that same night.
A small gazebo and paved section of the Khmer-Chinese temple dropped toward Prek Tnaut. Pillars holding up the paved grounds were exposed and bent, with all the land missing under the pavement.
On the opposite side, large concrete embankments with stairs leading to the waters slid at least 3-4 meters into the stream. The collapsed land borders the Takhmao city hall.
Khim Sareth, who runs the temple, was reluctant to speak about the collapse and only said that the embankment started sliding on May 6 and that district officials had already inspected the damage.
Rim Som, a fisher who lives on a boat near the site, said she and other fishers had helped cut metal rebar that was still connected to the collapsed section, to prevent it from pulling other land into the stream.
“I had to tie a wire around my waist because I was afraid that while cutting the metal bars that were collapsing, I may fall into it,” Som said.
She was shaken by the incident and was worried about more land collapsing in the area.
Kandal deputy governor Nou Pen Chandara said the collapse was caused by increased water flow after heavy rains. He did not answer if the accident was caused by dredging activity in the river, saying a technical team was assessing the causes of the collapse.
“Due to strong water flow from the bottom, it caused a landslide. As long as there is strong water flow in the dry months, there is a problem,” he said.
Khun Thoeurn, the deputy chief of hydrology and riverworks at the Ministry of Water Resources, said he had attended a ministerial meeting about the collapse but did not know the reason for the incident.
Thoeurn also blamed heavy rains upstream for the collapse. The official was there to take measurements of the collapse and assess how to rebuild the paved area.
“The problem that caused the collapse is heavy rainfall from Phnom Oral in Kampong Speu and then flowing toward the riverbank,” he said.
Kao Les, a 34-year-old Cham resident who lives on a boat next to the landslide, said sand dredging activity in the area started five years ago and had intensified over the past year.
“They pump the sand day and night, and there are barges that continually bring this sand to many borey such as Boeng Snor,” he claimed, referring to a housing development project nearby.
Som, the fisher who helped cut metal rebar, said there were only one or two sand barges in the area last year, but that there were now many boats pumping sand from the river bed. Reporters saw around seven barges carrying sand Tuesday afternoon.
“I feel sad for the people living alongside the riverbank as they are the ones who get the most effect from sand pumping. If there were some people living around here at the time of the collapse, wouldn’t they have faced great difficulty?” Sokha said.