Lightning and strong winds killed 56 people and injured another 101 across Cambodia in the first nine months of this year, according to data from the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) obtained by The Post.
More than 4,000 houses were damaged due to storms in that period, with 943 destroyed.
Three people were killed and 59 others injured in 156 occurrences of strong winds that buffeted 21 of Cambodia’s 25 provinces, except Mondulkiri, Pailin, Pursat and Kep.
More than 4,000 houses were damaged, of which 943 were destroyed and 3,206 lost their roofs, while there was damage to the roofs of 38 school buildings, 13 stalls and 21 public administration buildings, such as health centres, commune halls and administrative police stations.
Lightning strikes occurred 95 times affecting 20 provinces (except Phnom Penh municipality, Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum), resulting in 53 deaths and 49 injuries, with 84 animals killed and 22 houses damaged.
NCDM spokesman Soth Kim Kolmony told The Post that through education, people were better aware of the precautions necessary to protect from the dangers posed by violent natural phenomenon such as strong winds and lightning.
However, due to livelihood pressures, the poor in rural areas continued working during such events, putting them at risk.
“Farmers know that working in heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms is life-threatening, but they feel forced to do so due to food shortages,” said Kolmony.
The latest case, On October 3, two construction workers, a father and son, working on the third ring road in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district, were struck by lightning, said Prum Samnang, chief of Kien Svay district police.
The older man was killed.
Samnang said 19-year-old Sem Sokjing told authorities that he and his father had finished work and were walking to their temporary residence in Kien Svay district’s Dei Ith commune when the storm blew up.
“After we had walked halfway, there was suddenly heavy rain, then lightning struck and I was knocked out.
“When I came to, my father was unconscious. I called on villagers nearby to intervene and get him to hospital.
“But the medical team said my father was already dead when he arrived at the hospital,” Samnang quoted Sokjing as saying.
According to Samnang, a forensics team determined the cause of death had indeed been a lightning strike, with the body returned to the family.
Kim Kolmony urged people to exercise the strictest caution when encountering bad weather.
“Of course, we cannot stop such natural occurrences, but we can prevent the risk of disaster if we follow expert guidance,” he said.
The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology on October 4 continued to warn of the occurrence of violent natural phenomenon, with heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms forecast in the central lowlands bordering Vietnam and in coastal areas.
The ministry said that an emerging low pressure system continued to extend across the Kingdom with the weak southwest monsoon winds.
Meanwhile, a confluence of high pressure pushing down from China and low pressure moving up from the south would lead to low to moderate rain accompanied by strong winds and lightning, with the lowlands bordering Vietnam particularly at risk.