Floodwater released by a recently opened Chinese hydroelectric dam in Cambodia has completely submerged a village, the campaign group International Rivers said on Friday (Feb 2).

Hundreds of families from five villages in the northern province of Stung Treng had moved several months ago to designated project resettlement sites, before the floodwater from the dam submerged the area, the group said.

In Srekor village, site of the submerged area, 10 families relocated to a resettlement village, while 63 stayed behind, moving to forested higher ground from where they saw the waters rise steadily since December to reach the roofs of their homes.

“The thriving community of Srekor has become a silent waterworld,” International Rivers said, adding that the village’s farms, temple, ancestral graves and fishing grounds had been destroyed.

The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan 2 Dam, a joint venture between China’s Hydrolancang International Energy Company and Cambodia’s Royal Group, finally began operation in November.

About 75 meters high and 8 km long, the dam has taken years to build. Part of China’s hydropower ambitions in the Mekong region it is aimed at generating electricity for Cambodia.

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