"Flood danger decreases as river height drops
Vientiane could be safe from flooding after authorities yesterday reported the water level of the Mekong River was dropping.
The Vientiane Flooding and Drought Prevention Committee's Secretariat Head, Mr Vilasack Nammounty, said the water level in the capital decreased from 13.68 metres on August 15 to 13.2m on Sunday morning.
This is still above the danger mark of 12.5m. Authorities relaxed sandbagging activities yesterday as a direct result of the falling river levels.
“I think the water level will continue going down if we don't get heavy rain,” Mr Vilasack said.
Mr Vilasack said about 8,145 families in 145 villages of the capital's six districts had been affected by the flooding and authorities were currently assessing the cost of the damage.
The height of the Mekong is decreasing in several provinces as rainfall has eased in the past couple of days.
In Borikhamxay province the river dropped slightly to 14.7m on Sunday morning, still 0.2m above the danger level. Hundreds of families there were affected as 39 villages were flooded and 10 villages faced shortages of clean water.
“We try to supply villagers with clean water and dry food to give them some relief, but there is not enough to meet the demand,” he said.
Borikhamxay Provincial Flooding and Drought Prevention Committee Head, Mr Leuam Sonsyvilay, said 169 families were evacuated from their homes and several roads remained underwater, causing traffic difficulties.
About 13,041 hectares of rice fields were flooded, 1,000 hectares more than late last week. Livestock deaths have reached at least 50 cows, 40 buffalos and almost 300 pigs. More than 300,000 fish caged in the river also died from contaminated floodwaters.
Mr Leuam said three villages in the urban town of Pakxan had been flooded, but fortunately electricity and water supplies remained available.
Mr Leuam said health problems caused by flooding were a major concern, as he had already seen many people who were infected with conjunctivitis and skin diseases.
“We are very concerned about the issue and have sent a report to the government to be aware of the problem and seek ways to address it,” he said.
“Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh visited flooded areas of our province and he will also fly to southern provinces to investigate the situation.”
In Khammuan province, the water level is yet to reach the danger mark of 14m. It had reached only 13.7m by Sunday morning.
Despite this, more than 37,000 people in 6,741 families have been impacted by flooding in that province, and 10,200 hectares of rice fields in six districts have flooded, including Thakhek, Nongbok, Xebangfay, Hinboun, Mahaxay and Nhommalath.
Khammuan Flooding and Drought Prevention Committee's Secretariat Head, Mr Bounsieng Xaphakdy, said his provincial authorities mobilised more than 200 police and military officers to work in cooperation with villagers on the weekend to build sandbag walls to prevent possible flooding in the urban town.
“We have built a 1m-high sandbag wall at the riverside of Thakhek town to prevent flooding,” he said.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update August 18, 2008)"
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