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Thousands displaced by flooding of Mekong

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Residents paddle through rising water around flooded market stalls in Stung Treng province’s Stung Treng town in 2013. Photo supplied

Thousands displaced by flooding of Mekong

Nearly 1,000 families residing in provinces along the Mekong River had been evacuated to safe areas as of Tuesday, while 1,133 houses in Kratie province had been inundated, according to provincial authorities.

The water levels in the provinces had risen significantly, they said, leading schools to close to prevent accidents.

Tbong Khmum deputy provincial governor Ly Leng told The Post on Tuesday that at least five communes had been inundated, forcing more than 600 families to move to higher ground.

“We’ve evacuated more than 600 families. No one was injured because we were well prepared. They have lived along the river for a long time so they are accustomed to it,” he said.

Leng said schools in Tbong Khmum have also been flooded, with primaries and secondaries suffering the most.

Stung Treng provincial hall spokesperson Men Kong said the Mekong River waters had risen drastically, inundating some districts, with Samaki and Srash Russei the most flooded communes.

“The water level in the river has gone up notably, but we are not concerned because it hasn’t reached emergency levels yet.

“The flood water that had flowed from Laos into the Sekong River through Siem Pang and Sesan districts has also receded,” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, he said 67 families had been relocated from the two districts to safe areas, while over 200 families will be evacuated on Wednesday if the water keeps rising.

The spokesperson denied media reports that more corpses of victims in the Lao dam collapse had been found floating in the province.

“We’ve found only one dead body from Laos. We’ve contacted its consul and they will arrive to collect the body,” he said.

The provincial department of water resources and meteorology said it had set up a water pump to release floods from Stung Treng town.

In Kratie province, provincial hall spokesman Pen Linat said although rising floodwaters had inundated Kratie town and four other districts, no major impact has been caused because of it.

“Kratie has no problem. People are used to living near the river. Even if their houses are flooded, they would not relocate. They just take their animals to higher ground,” he said.

Linat said four schools in the province which were flooded had been ordered closed.

“Some schools have been shuttered to prevent accidents, while the end of the academic year is approaching,” he said.

Grade 12 students, he said, would not be affected by floods as their examination centres are situated on higher ground.

The National Committee for Disaster Management spokesperson Keo Vy said flood levels had risen fast, but the authorities and relevant ministries have already drawn up plans to handle it.

“The water level goes up as announced by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology. In the next few days, more schools will be inundated, but authorities are already well prepared,” he said.

The ministry’s spokesman Chan Yutha told The Post that the water level will reach emergency levels in some provinces in the next few days.

He added that those along the rivers, including Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum, will face challenges as nearby areas have already been inundated.

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