Cambodia flash floods trap nearly 200 tourists in historic temple

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SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA (BNO NEWS) -- Nearly 200 tourists were airlifted from a historic northwestern Cambodian temple after flash floods trapped them inside, local media reported Friday. Dozens have been killed in the flooding.

Rapid flash floods trapped 183 tourists from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, and Japan at the popular and historic Banteay Srei temple on Thursday, which is located in the city of Siem Reap, capital city of the province which carries the same name, the Phnom Penh Post reported.


Mong Vuthy, Banteay Srei district chief said helicopters and boats had to be deployed to the touristic site, which lies some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the Angkor Wat temple complex, to rescue the trapped tourists.

Local residents said flood waters began to rise quickly, taking around three hours for the water to reach it peak. In some parts, flood levels were up to 1.5 meters (5 feet). Many villagers and residents in the area were forced to seek higher grounds, climbing rooftops, as the waters kept rising.

The Siem Reap River overflowed after the Banteay Srei district received around 200 millimeters (7.8 inches) of rainfall. However, Cambodia's Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology forecasts rainfall to continue until Monday.

Water resources provincial department chairman Noun Krissna said authorities will review how the situation develops in the coming 24 hours in order to decide whether to use heavy machinery, such as bulldozers and excavators, to dig out trenches along the flooded rivers to ease out the flood waters.

Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesperson Chan Yutha said that during Thursday's flash floods, at least one person had drowned in the area. In addition, two others were missing after they attempted to cross a flooded road on their motorcycle. Heavy rainfall has brought flooding across the country, affecting scores of people. Media reports have indicated that over 50 people have died during the floods, including one British tourist.

Officials also noted that around 56,000 hectares (138,379 acres) of rice paddies nationwide are in danger of being destroyed by the waters, with the province of Kampong Thom being considered the most affected area. According to a village chief in the province's Prasat Sambor district, around 97 percent of the rice paddies in the region would be destroyed if the waters did not decrease in the coming days.

Furthermore, health officials have expressed concern as several evacuees from flooded regions have been suffering from serious symptoms such as diarrhea and colds. Around 5,000 families have been reportedly evacuated from their homes.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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