Hundreds Threatened by Erosion of Mekong Banks

Erosion along the banks of the Mekong River in Kompong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district has caused 16 families to move their homes and is threatening hundreds more, officials warned Sunday.

Koh Andet commune chief Yan Yet said at least 16 homes have been dismantled since the beginning of July due to the collapsing riverbank.

“Another 100 houses in Korki village could have the move if the riverbank’s erosion continues,” Mr. Yet said. “Now the erosion is strong because the water level is rising and strong winds caused waves to hit the riverbank.”

Mr. Yet said the erosion stretches for about 1 km, and in some places has eaten away 10-meter-wide swaths of land.

Authorities have been helping villagers dismantle their homes and begin trucking supplies to other plots of land in the area, Mr. Yet said.

“We don’t know how to stop it because it is a natural disaster,” he said.

Oum Vibol, director of the provincial department of water resources and meteorology, said the water level is currently at 13.36 meters, compared to 11.27 meters in July of last year.

Mr. Vibol said the rising water levels as well as a change in the water currents are to blame for the rapid erosion this year.

Kompong Cham governor Lun Limthai said that villagers moving their houses along the river due to erosion was nothing new.

“They are always experiencing the riverbank’s erosion,” he said. “It always happens, just big or small.”

Mr. Limthai acknowledged the water level is higher this year than last but said it has not yet hit an “emergency” level.

“Authorities are ready to help people and evacuate them to safe places,” he said.

Chen Thoeun, Korki village chief, said hundreds of families in his village may have to relocate if the erosion continues at its rapid pace.

“The most affected area is my village,” he said. “I am worried because the riverbank is eroding every year. We don’t know how to stop it.”

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