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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Choppers rescue tourists caught by Cambodian flood

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Flash floods at a centuries-old temple in northeastern Cambodia stranded about 200 foreign tourists Thursday, forcing officials to use helicopters to evacuate them to a nearby town.

The group visiting the 10th century Banteay Srey temple included tourists from the U.S., South Korea, France, Britain and Russia, district official Mom Vuthy said. The flooding also forced thousands of area residents to abandon their homes for high ground, or to camp on roofs or in trees, he said.

Brittny Anderson, 26, from Oregon said she was grateful for local residents who brought food to the stranded tourists as they waited on high ground for the helicopter rescues.

"I am scared for the villagers whose houses were under water," she said in a telephone interview. "I heard that the villagers had climbed trees and I'm very worried for their safety."

The temple is just 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Angkor Wat temple complex, one of Asia's greatest landmarks and Cambodia's top tourist attraction. It was not yet known if any of the region's temples were damaged in the flooding, said Mey Marady, vice secretary general of Apsara Authority, a government agency that oversee the temples.

Nationwide flooding since August has killed 28 people.

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