One Drowns as Floods Hit Preah Vihear

One teenager drowned and at least 30 families were evacuated as the Stung Sen river swelled over one meter higher than emergency levels in Preah Vihear province, authorities said on Wednesday, as at least five other provinces recorded flooding from Tropical Storm Sonca.

Some 350 armed soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit were deployed on Wednesday to buttress the banks of the river with sandbags, according to provincial governor Un Chanda.

Water foods a bridge in Oddar Meanchey province, in a photo posted to the Water Resources Ministry’s Facebook page.

“We are ready to send more forces” if necessary, he said.

Yung Kimhoeung, deputy provincial head of administration, said a 14-year-old boy drowned in the province on Tuesday morning.

“He swam while there was flooding and drowned,” he said.

The river, which is a tributary of the Tonle Sap river, stood at 12.8 meters in Preah Vihear City as of yesterday evening, well over the emergency level of 11.5 meters, according to Mr. Chanda, who said the rising waters affected the provincial capital and four districts in the province as residents were moved to higher ground.

“We are organizing temporary shelters at a safe place and donating some food for them,” he said.

Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said the situation would likely worsen as continued rain flushed down from higher elevations into rivers.

“It’s a change in weather caused by the storm in the region that…caused heavy rains in coastal provinces and the northern plateau,” Mr. Vy said.

Floods wash out a road in Preah Vihear province, in a photo taken from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology’s Facebook page.

Kompong Thom, Oddar Meanchey, Ratanakkiri, Preah Sihanouk and Kampot provinces had also experienced flooding caused by Sonca beginning on Monday.

The NCDM was still collecting data on the storm and could not yet say when it would pass, he said.

Sonca, the eighth tropical storm to hit Southeast Asia this year, made landfall in central Vietnam on Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported, before starting to pass through Laos and northern Thailand, which were braced for torrential downpours.

Cambodia is feeling the effects of Sonca as it sweeps past neighboring countries, when it is predicted to weaken into a tropical depression.

National Road 4 was briefly submerged in Preah Sihanouk province’s Kompong Seila district, according to Mr. Vy, while at least 3,000 hectares of rice fields had been affected by flooding in Preah Vihear and Kompong Thom, with more damage in other provinces likely.

Authorities in Preah Vihear issued a statement on Tuesday urging locals to seek higher ground, while Kampot provincial authorities warned families yesterday to keep an eye on children.

Pov Rin, a 56-year-old farmer from Preah Vihear’s Sra Em Khang Choeung village in Choam Ksan district, said she was evacuated yesterday morning from her submerged home, with authorities preparing emergency shelter at a nearby hilltop pagoda.

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