PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Hundreds of homes and businesses have been flooded in Kampot province and city over the past 48 hours due to relentless heavy rain and the opening of the gates of the Kamchay Hydropower Dam.
Experts have said that “hundreds of millimetres” of rain has fallen on the Kingdom since Tuesday as a result of tropical storm Vamco, which battered the coast of Vietnam this week and also caused flooding in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.
The highland and coastal regions of these countries have been affected the worst by Vamco, according to meteorologists who warn that heavy rain, flooding and landslides still present a threat as the bad weather moves inland.
Waves off the coast were as high as 3 meters yesterday and fishing boats and other vessels have been warned to stay in the harbour until the weather improves.
In Kampot, some riverside residents told Khmer reporters they had received little or no advance warning that officials were planning to open Kamchay Hydropower Dam’s gates.
The Provincial Governor, Khoy Khun Hour, said authorities made the call to open all of the Chinese-built and operated dam’s sluice gates on Wednesday when it became clear the reservoir was almost filled “beyond its limit.”
The governor reported that about 600 families were forced to swiftly abandon their homes and businesses along the river on Wednesday when sirens and officials alerted them. Locals have told reporters that more like 1,000 families had to flee.
Today, the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) stated that around 1,760 Kampot families have been affected by the flooding, but images seen by Khmer Times show the effects of the flooding are larger than estimates suggest.
The NCDM confirmed that there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities, although it’s not yet clear how much damage to property and crops has been suffered.
As of Thursday, large parts of Kampot city and other riverside communes in the province were still heavily flooded.
Torrential rain on Wednesday night and the surge of water from the dam has resulted in dramatic images of flooded streets, businesses and homes.
Kampot city’s riverside has been greatly flooded, with pictures showing the famous “old bridge” almost submerged by rising water levels.
Business-owners and residents have reported varying levels of flooding throughout the city, linked to their proximity to the river.
The lucky ones have only had to deal with 20cm of water whilst others have said they’ve had almost 2 meters.
Vamco Batters Coast
The effects of tropical storm Vamco have been felt acutely on the coast in recent days with strong winds, heavy rain and flooding disrupting the lives of residents.
Although no injuries or deaths have been reported, widespread property damage has caused concern.
In Sihanoukville, extra security was imposed as recovery efforts took place at Sihanoukville port after dozens of 20ft container units were knocked over and damaged port buildings during strong winds.
Seven fishermen had a lucky escape on Wednesday when their large fishing vessel was smashed onto sharp rocks on Preah Sihanouk’s coast, resulting in a rescue by a navy patrol boat.
Unoccupied boats have also been damaged and sunk. Authorities this week strongly advised against all sailing and police temporarily closed piers in Sihanoukville, stopping tourists from travelling to and from the islands.
Kampot and Sihanoukville has seen some of the heaviest flooding in recent memory but experts, such as the UK’s Met Office, have warned more stormy wet weather could be on the way for much of Southeast Asia.
Vietnamese authorities have said they expect more tropical storms in coming months and remain vigilant for typhoons off their coast.