Prime Minister Hun Sen and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc exchanged letters of sorrow as their countries face the worst natural disaster in years while international relations experts hope that the disaster will motivate the two countries to join efforts to cope with climate change.
In an official letter addressed to Mr Hun Sen dated October 18 and by Khmer Times yesterday, Nguyen expressed his concern over the prolonged rain in Cambodia which has caused much damage and killed dozens of people.
“On behalf of the Vietnamese government and people, I would like to send my best wishes to the Prime Minister, the authorities and people all over the country who are affected by the flooding, especially the families who lost their members to the disaster.”
In response, Mr Hun Sen sent a letter to Nguyen, in which he expressed his appreciation for the kind message.
“I wish to convey my high appreciation to Your Excellency for your concern and sympathy extended to our government and the Cambodian people for the loss of lives and serious damage to properties caused by floods following the continuous heavy rain in Cambodia,” the Premier wrote in his letter, dated October 26.
Mr Hun Sen went on to express his condolences toward the suffering of the Vietnamese people.
“I am very saddened to learn about the loss of lives and missing people as well as serious damage to crops and properties in the central and Central Highlands regions, particularly Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces of Vietnam, due to the recent floods and landslides caused by storms Linfa and Nangka,” he said.
However, Mr Hun Sen added he is confident that Vietnam will recover from the disaster soon under the strong leadership of Nguyen.
In Cambodia, as of Monday this week, the flash floods have affected 121 districts and cities in 20 of the 25 provinces and capital city – Phnom Penh, Pursat, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Svay Rieng, Tboung Khmum, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Takeo, Kampong Speu, Mondulkiri, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Kampong Cham, Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, and Kampong Thom.
According to a new report from the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), the death toll from the ongoing flash floods has risen to 43, while 148,597 families or 594,388 people have been affected and 11,895 families or 47,580 people have been evacuated.
The flood has also damaged 133,203 houses, 951 schools, 307 pagodas, 272,263 hectares of rice fields, 96,945 hectares of subsidiary crops and many roads, bridges, canals.
In the meantime, flood-ravaged Vietnam has evacuated more than half a million people from its central coastal region as it braces for Typhoon Molave, according to AFP. This will be the fourth storm to hit the country in weeks while earlier this month tropical storms Nangka and Saudel left scores of people dead, missing and displaced in Vietnam.
Chheang Vannarith, president of Asian Vision Institute, said the exchange of condolence letters between the two Southeast Asian leaders can be seen as very important during this hard time, especially as both are struggling with COVID-19 recovery.
“During this time, the two countries are focusing on helping their people and could not help one another much, but the letters could be seen as a very important emotional support for the two powers,” he said.