ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Floods in Cambodia, Thailand and VietnamBy David Swartzemtruber
Since mid-August, tropical storms and seasonal southwest monsoon continue to bring heavy rains to Southeast Asian countries, in particular to Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Thailand. Meteorologists have indicated that flooding in some of these countries is the worst in 50 years. With Typhoon Nalgae approaching the Asian mainland on 5 October, countries in the region are preparing themselves for further flooding. The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) continues to monitor the flood situation in the region and is in ongoing contact with the UN Country Teams and Disaster Management Offices in the affected countries. The full extent of damage has yet to occur, in particular the full impact of water flow from the upstream Mekong River.
Seasonal rains and back-to-back typhoons have significantly increased rainfall and caused the two main rivers of Cambodia to overflow from mid-August. Flash flooding first occurred in the Northwestern provinces of Siem Riep, Pursat, Battambang, and Banthey Menachey. The flash floods caught the population off guard and resulted in a number of drownings. Whilst the flash flooding was due to heavy rainfall, rising flood waters in provinces downstream from the Tonle Sap Great Lake have added to the swelling water levels in the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Flooding is now reported in 14 out of 24 provinces. Provinces most affected include Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom.
Tropical Depression Nesat has caused widespread flooding in the North, Northeast and Central part of Thailand. Since 25 July, the Thai Government reports that there have been 224 deaths and 2.4 million affected in 58 provinces. The floods have also damaged about 2.5 million acres of rice plantations and affected 8.5 million livestock. On 3 October, the Thai Meteorological Department issued fresh warnings to people in the North and North-East to prepare for more heavy rainfall and flash floods in the coming days due to seasonal southwest monsoon and tropical storm “Nalgae” (expected to make landfall in Vietnam on 5 October). Normally, the end of rainy season is at the end of October but Thai meteorologists say floods will affect the country into the first two weeks of November.
Vietnam has confronted two types of flooding in the last months – flash floods in the North and Central Provinces bought on by the South China Sea storms and typhoons, and the Mekong Delta floods caused by early and heavy monsoon rains as well as high volume run-offs from the Mekong River upstream. Nesat was the fifth typhoon to hit the country on 30 September, since early August 2011. Nesat gradually weakened into a low pressure trough before dissipating entirely over northern Yen Bai Province. Typhoon Nalgae is forecast to make landfall in North-Central Vietnam at 4 pm on 5 October.
The Mekong Delta floods have been more damaging. The flood waters have come earlier (early September) and been stronger than usual, eroding more delta riverbanks than in previous years. Provinces affected include An Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang, Long An, Tien Giang, Can Thor, Vinh Long and Hau Giang. As of 3 October, a total of 11 people were killed and 20,463 houses flooded. About 5,000 hectares of rice paddies have been destroyed or damaged by flooding with about 99,000 more hectors at risk of flooding.
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