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The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones
"Many crops have already been destroyed"
 real 56k

Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Mekong flood death toll rises
Flooded houses
Some 800,000 sq km are flooded
More than 90 people are now reported to have died in the worst floods around the Mekong Delta in decades.


Please help Cambodian people in these hard times

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
The Red Cross has launched an international appeal for $1.9m to help some 600,000 people left homeless in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

The United Nations disaster management team in Vietnam has described the water levels as "very dangerous".

Woman paddling boat
Tens of thousands of people are homeless
In Cambodia the authorities have declared a state of emergency in the capital Phnom Penh where rising waters could inundate the city in days.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed for help on Thursday as he visited the affected areas.

He said it was the most serious flood in more than 70 years.

The Red Cross says the unusually widespread monsoon floods have deluged nearly 800,000 square km of land in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

Stranded

In Vietnam the floods have already inundated at least 140,000 homes in the rice growing provinces bordering Cambodia.

woman wading through flood waters
The monsoon has been unusually widespread
Rescuers from the army and navy have used boats to move villagers to safety.

Tens of thousands of hectares of rice paddies have been swamped.

One official said the water levels of the Mekong could rise over five metres (16 feet) by the end of the month.

Over the past years hundreds of kilometres of dykes have been constructed in the delta region to protect against the annual flooding.

But there are fears that some of these could collapse as more and more people seek high ground.

Drownings

Prompt rescue efforts in Vietnam have kept the death toll down, with only eight deaths recorded in the last week.

Boy on fortified sandbags on Mekong
The flooding is the worst in decades
But in neighbouring Cambodia, more than 80 people have died as a result of flooding.

The Mekong's waters approached 11 metres (33 feet) high in the capital on Thursday.

Peou Samy, secretary general for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said: "We have decided to sacrifice the rice crops in that area in order to save Phnom Penh."

"The water level is forecast to reach 11.44 metres next week ... I appeal to the international community to assist the Cambodian Government because we have tried everything we can think of."

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See also:

14 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
In Pictures: The Mekong floods
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam prepares for Mekong flood
08 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Flood waters threaten Cambodian capital
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines hit by killer storms
28 Aug 99 | World
Nature's lethal weapons
22 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam: legacy of the floods
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