Rising Battambang Dam Levels Add to Cambodian Flooding Concerns

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Residents watch as water overflows from some areas of the Kamping Pouy Basin, Oct 8, 2013.
Residents watch as water overflows from some areas of the Kamping Pouy Basin, Oct 8, 2013.

Authorities in Cambodia said Tuesday they are concerned over the rising levels of a dam in the country's western Battambang province as deadly floods continue to ravage the kingdom.

"I am concerned that if the water continues to rise tonight, [the dam] will burst and water will spill into Battambang town,” Im Bunyou, a commune chief in Banan, one of 14 districts in the flood-hit province, told RFA's Khmer Service.

He spoke as hundreds of families living near Kamping Pouy Basin, the dam located between two mountains in Ta Kream commune west of the provincial town, were evacuated as waters overflowed from some areas of the reservoir on Tuesday.

Heavy rains since last month have caused floods in 15 of Cambodia's 23 provinces and left at least 83 people dead, according to the authorities.

The Kamping Puoy reservoir was built during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime as part of its plan to irrigate the countryside around Battambang.

Ta Kream commune chief Im Bunyou said that dam waters have already flooded 54 houses, and that if the situation worsens it would add to the problems in Battambang, where all districts have been slammed by floods.

In the Banan district, authorities used speedboats to evacuate some of the villagers to safe shelters, officials said.

Nhim Vanda, first deputy chairman of the the National Committee for Disaster Management, confirmed that while 83 people had died in floods as of Monday, the figure was expected to rise with more than 800,000 people and 120,000 hectares (296,526 acres) of land already impacted by the disaster.

Flash floods have hit all 14 districts in Battambang, leading to the evacuation of over 700 families working and residing near the Kamping Pouy reservoir, provincial governor Prach Chan was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

“[Yesterday] we decided to evacuate more than 100 people who live and work near Kamping Pouy reservoir because the dam is causing flash flooding and we want to avoid more drownings,” Chan said, adding that 10 people have already drowned in the province.

Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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