Phnom Penh — Images of devastation by floods in Cambodia show the deep impact of the Nangka and Saudel tropical storms. Last Thursday, the Ministry of Meteorology forecast that there will be more rainfall and high winds as the two powerful storms are moving westward from the South China Sea.

Nangka, which means in Malaysian jackfruit, began as a tropical depression off the west coast of Luzon on October 11. It was declared a tropical storm the following day. On October 13 it made landfall in Hainan Island crossing the Gulf of Tonkin and hitting northern Vietnam. By October 14 there were already reports of at least 36 people killed and 12 missing, while destroying hundreds of houses. As Nangka is ending out towards China, another tropical storm is forming towards central Vietnam and it is expected to reach Cambodia between 18th and 19th of October. 

According to official reports, 13 persons have lost their lives and 12,376 have been evacuated from over 19 Cambodian provinces – the kingdom has 25. At the same time, 193,268 persons have been affected due to the heavy raining and floods, damaging cities, towns and agricultural areas.

The situation is serious in provinces like Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat at the west of Cambodia, in the central part of the country like Kandal province and Phnom Penh the capital and in northern Cambodia: Stung Treng, Kroche and Kompong Cham. According to official reports, 48 thousand houses and 187 thousand hectares of rice and other crops are flooded at this moment. Transport among provinces is interrupted.  The warning predicts that the situation could improve after October 19. 

Some Salesians centres are located in provinces with heavy raining such as Don Bosco Poipet in Banteay Meanchey, Don Bosco Andong Chey in Battambang and Don Bosco Phnom Penh, although floods did not reach the schools. The Salesians have asked students from around Cambodia to report the situation of their families if they are located in disaster areas. Roads going to Phnom Penh are closed at the moment and students were sent home to come back on Monday, bringing a better picture of their situation. Students of the different Salesian centres in Cambodia come from all the provinces. 

The situation in Sihanoukville, which was hit by heavy floods in 2019 affecting the Don Bosco school, got floods too, but they are not affecting the Salesian centre this time.

Cambodia has been lucky because of a low spread of the pandemic with just 283 reported cases of covid19 and no deaths, but it is expected that the situation will increase the numbers of poverty in the coming months due to the global economic recession. The booming international tourism to the country got its worst moments and factories are closing, letting hundreds of youth on the streets. With more cases than covid19, the Chikungunya outbreak infected more than one thousand persons in Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Kampong Cham, according to the Ministry of Health.

The government gave the order of opening schools in the country to be able to conclude the academic year, however, with the natural disasters caused by the tropical storms, the situation is now uncertain.