Floods force road closures,13 dead

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People were evacuated from flood-hit areas in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Thursday. Hong Menea

After inspecting heavily flooded roads in the country, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport urged specialists in Phnom Penh and the provinces to ban traffic on the most-affected roads to reduce safety risks to citizens and prevent damage to property.

Kandal provincial public works department director Moeng Youleng told The Post that on Wednesday evening, he issued a notification temporarily banning heavy vehicles from travelling on national roads 2, 3, 4, 5, 20, 20A, 21, 21A and 21B.

“The temporary suspension of traffic on those roads is [being implemented] to maintain the roads and bridges and ensure safe traffic. At this moment, those roads are submerged and the water level is 2.5 decimetres and over,” he said.

Takeo Provincial Hall administrative director Moeng Vuthy told The Post that trucks were also banned from travelling on national roads 2 and 3 in the province.

“For National Road 2, trucks are banned from travelling from the Chambak Roundabout to Kampong Dangkor bordering Kandal province,” he said.

After the Prek Thnot River dam collapsed on Wednesday morning, some citizens’ houses and roads in Dangkor district in the south of Phnom Penh were submerged in fast-moving water.

On Thursday, Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng decided to temporarily block Chamkar Doung Street (217) to the Kuor Srov Roundabout and several other roads in the district.

Sim Tola, the head of Dangkor district administration, told The Post on Thursday that 11 of the district’s communes were submerged in water.

“For now, we still don’t know the number of houses or families that were affected by the floods. As an emergency mechanism for now, we have to think of citizens’ lives by evacuating seriously affected people to high ground first,” he said.

Prey Sar Prison (M2) in the district’s Prey Sar commune was also flooded. The prison housed around 1,400 inmates including women and minors. Prison guards temporarily transferred all of the inmates to Prey Sar Prison (M1) and Police Judiciaire (PJ) prison for their safety.

General Department of Prisons spokesman Nuth Savna confirmed to The Post on Thursday that more than 800 of the roughly 1,400 prisoners at M2 were transferred to M1. Another 500 inmates were transferred to the PJ prison.

“Although they are prisoners, we cannot leave them behind. The floods flowed into detention rooms, some of which have a water depth of over one decimetre. Others have a depth of three decimetres. How do they bear to live? They are also humans,” he said.

Savna said the water had flooded the prisons’ compounds and submerged them in nearly one metre of water. As a result, the prisons cannot perform their administrative work.

“For now, the water is also seeping into certain parts of the M1 compound. But our prison guards are using machines to pump it out. Otherwise, we don’t know how to evacuate them from this prison,” he said.

He added that currently, M1 is housing over 8,000 prisoners while PJ experienced an increase of up to 3,000 inmates. Serious floods on Tuesday necessitated the transfer of 1,612 prisoners from Banteay Meanchey province to prisons in other provinces.

Of those prisoners, 811 were transferred to Siem Reap province, 200 to Kampong Thom and 200 others to Oddar Meanchey. Nearly 400 prisoners were transferred to Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province.

According to the National Committee for Disaster Management on Thursday, rain-induced floods have killed 13 people in the country. More than 120,000 people have been forced to leave their homes to set up makeshift tents on higher ground. Another 200,000 people are continuing to live at their homes surrounded by floodwater.

The committee said flooding since early October had damaged more than 130,000ha of rice and 55,360ha of cash crops. The floods also damaged 31 rural roads spanning 1,459km and national roads totalling 202km as well as bridges, dams and canals.