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Southeast Asia

STUNG TRENG, CAMBODIA- July night had just fallen over the tiny fishing village of Sdao, on the Sekong River in northern Cambodia, when a man on a motorcycle appeared with an urgent message, delivered by loudspeaker: “Evacuate now,” he called out to the few hundred families living here. “A flood is coming.”

A dam under construction some 155 miles (250 kilometers) upstream, in neighboring Laos, had collapsed the day before after heavy monsoon rains, sending a deluge of water down the already swollen, swirling Sekong. The floodwaters, villagers were told, could reach as far as Stung Treng, the provincial capital in northern Cambodia where the Sekong joins the even larger Mekong River.

Ey Bun Thea, a 24-year-old fisherman and farmer, had no idea that a dam was being built farther up the same river where he fishes every day. But he knew he had to get out quickly. He pulled together some valuables—rice, blankets, mosquito nets, some cash—and after releasing his animals he escaped with his wife and young child into the dark, in search of higher ground. “It was very scary,” he said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

In 2012, when this photo was taken, construction of the Miaowei Dam was already underway. When finished next year, it will be the eighth dam on the Lancang River, China's name for its 1,300-mile stretch of the Mekong. PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID GUTTENFELDER, AP/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Read more: Southeast Asia May Be Building Too Many Dams Too Fast

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Indian fisherman sail into the sea of Bay Of Bengal for their evening catch in Chennai on April 3, 2017 AFP

 

A key problem now is that there is little money for mangrove regeneration and conservation, though all experts agree that it is essential since mangroves are the main nurseries of almost all fish and other marine animals.

Read more: Eight countries come together to protect Bay of Bengal

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Researchers found greater than expected loss of forests in Southeast Asia. Credit: Photos courtesy of the researchers

Researchers using satellite imaging have found much greater than expected deforestation since 2000 in the highlands of Southeast Asia, a critically important world ecosystem. The findings are important because they raise questions about key assumptions made in projections of global climate change as well as concerns about environmental conditions in Southeast Asia in the future.

Read more: Southeast Asian forest loss greater than expected, with negative climate implications

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