In the first seven months of 2023, fires, strong winds and lightning resulted in more than 300 people being killed or injured.

Between January and July 2023, such incidents led to 90 deaths and 217 reported injuries and resulted in substantial damage.

The tally, reported by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), also included extensive damage to homes and administrative buildings.

The NCDM reported 221 incidents of high winds, leading to eight deaths and 145 injuries. Such winds were also responsible for the destruction of 1,880 homes, the detachment of 12,208 roofs and the damaging of infrastructure including schools and market stalls.

Lightning also proved deadly, with 100 recorded strikes causing 59 fatalities, 45 injuries, the death of 87 cattle and damage to seven residences.

Fire accidents, totalling 390 cases, brought further adversities, damaging 427 homes and impacting businesses and facilities. These included 61 market stalls, eight warehouses, one school, and eight factories. In addition, fire incidents affected seven administrative buildings, 17 plantations and forests, resulting in the death of 23 people and causing injury to 27 individuals.

In a meeting held on July 31, Kun Kim, first vice-president of the NCDM, urged officials to enhance their monitoring of climate change trends.

He emphasised the need for rapid action to prevent disasters, and safeguard and rescue citizens from their impacts.

In related news, on August 1, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology forecasted that weather conditions from August 2 to 8 would be shaped by enduring low-pressure systems prevailing over northern Laos and Vietnam.

These meteorological patterns, together with the moderate southwest monsoon, are anticipated to have an impact on Cambodia.

In the Pacific Ocean, the looming Typhoon Khanun, headed towards eastern China, is likely to bring moderate to low rainfall in the central lowlands, highlands and coastal areas of Cambodia. The ministry warned that these conditions might be accompanied by thunder, lightning and high winds. An increased vigilance for potential natural phenomena was recommended.

On August 1, the Disaster Management Committee of Ratanakkiri province issued a warning to residents, urging extra vigilance against potential natural disasters this year.

A voicemail notification was sent out to people living along the Srepok and Sesan rivers, in areas such as Lumphat, Kon Mom, O’Yadao, Andong Meas, Vensai and Ta Veng districts. The residents were asked to stay alert to the possibility of river surges.

The committee stressed, “People living along the river must be highly vigilant by preparing the necessary means to avoid accidents that may potentially occur”.

In Pursat province, the director of the Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, Keo Vay, stated that the water level of the Pursat River began to rise on August 1 due to heavy rain.

Some houses near the mouth of the river have experienced flooding, but the water level, at present, is still below the emergency level of 5m, currently standing at 2.78m.

Nevertheless, NCDM’s Kim highlighted that as of July 25, water levels at all hydrological stations were recorded as being lower than those in the previous year.