Riverbank Landslide Destroys 39 Homes

Dozens of families in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district were left homeless Tuesday afternoon after a 60-meter section of riverbank collapsed into the Tonle Sap, submerging at least 39 stilt homes.

No one was killed, but several people sustained minor injuries when the riverbank gave way about 3 pm, villagers and officials said at the scene.

“I jumped into the river to collect my property, but all I could find was some clothes and ID cards,” said 60-year-old Pich Rithy, who wasn’t in his house when it plunged into the murky water.

The timing of the disaster was fortunate, Pich Rithy said, adding that most of the area’s residents were at work or school when the accident occurred.

Russei Keo district police chief Chey Soseila said by telephone that authorities were uncertain what caused the collapse.

“So far, we have no idea,” he said.

Russei Keo commune chief Chan Samnang said police were helping the homeless and other villagers affected by the collapse move their belongings to safe ground.

Resident Meas Yan, 36, said she was inside her wooden house when she witnessed her neighbors’ homes slide one by one into the river.

Though able to flee before her home tumbled down the riverbank, Meas Yan said her savings, clothes, furniture and food disappeared in a matter of seconds.

“I lost everything,” she said through tears. “I don’t know where I will stay.”

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