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Thursday, October 15, 2009

1,000 Cambodian schools still closed after storm Ketsana

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana prevented almost a thousand Cambodian schools from opening at the start of the academic year, keeping tens of thousands of students home, an Education Ministry official said Thursday.

Chroeng Limsry, director of the secondary education department, said some schools were still inundated while others had been damaged by the storm, which swept through the country late last month. Cambodia has about 7,000 schools nationwide attended by more than 3 million students. They should have opened at the beginning of this month.

Typhoon Ketsana toppled scores of rickety houses in Cambodia, killing at least 18 people and injuring 100 others.

Keo Vy, communications officer at the National Committee for Disaster Management, said initial estimates were that the storm caused at least $29.3 million in damage.

The British-based international aid agency Oxfam warned Thursday that "a food crisis is looming in flood-affected communities."

It said an estimated 100,000 people in eight provinces remain affected by the floods, and 15,000 households need immediate food assistance.

The situation is expected to get worse unless food assistance is provided urgently, it said.

"Many of the affected families are forced to borrow rice from each other, but now finding enough food is a big challenge," it said in a statement. "In some communities, Oxfam has also observed an increase in food prices which further weakens the capacities of the most vulnerable to live life in dignity." - AP

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