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Cambodia fears highest-ever floods death toll

boy
A Cambodian boy sits on his boat as he waits for passengers in a flooded street at the Chbar Ampeou district, southeast of Phnom Penh  

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (Reuters) -- Cambodia, facing its worst flooding for several years, said on Monday the number of flood-related deaths this year could surpass that of 1996, the most devastating year in memory.

The death toll this year has already reached 73, compared to 169 in 1996, with two months left before the rains dry up, Peou Samy, secretary-general of the National Committee on Disaster Management, told Reuters.

"If the rain keeps falling and the waters keep rising, this year will be worse than 1996," he said.

  MESSAGE BOARD
Nature's wrath
 

The government has declared a state of emergency in the capital Phnom Penh and several surrounding provinces and reiterated calls for flood relief on Monday.

"Again, we appeal to humanitarian organizations and generous people inside and outside Cambodia to help those in need," Peou Samy said. "We need an emergency response."

Damage by this year's floods to crops alone has been estimated at $10 million. This figure excluded any figure for the extensive damage to Cambodia's infrastructure such as roads and houses, he said.

Cambodia usually experiences fairly widespread flooding during the annual rainy season in August and September, but flooding started in early July this year and has been far more extensive than normal.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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