Typhoon, floods kill nearly 60 in Vietnam

At least 58 people have died in Vietnam since a typhoon slammed into the country, bringing the worst floods in decades to northern and central areas, rescue officials said on Monday.

Emergency workers were taking water, food and medical supplies by boat and helicopter to stranded villagers cut off after rivers burst through dykes and landslides damaged roads in the aftermath of Typhoon Lekima.

The floods are the worst in some northern and central provinces in 45 years, said the Central Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Prevention and Control, according to the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The toll was expected to climb as 15 people were still listed as missing.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited flood-hit Ninh Binh province on Sunday and ordered authorities to supply shelters and food for flood victims and quickly repair damaged dykes, roads, houses and schools, VNA reported.

The province worst hit was north-central Nghe An, where 22 people have died. The severe weather has also killed nine people in Hoa Binh, seven in Son La and four in Ninh Binh provinces. Three other deaths were reported elsewhere.

In Thanh Hoa province, where six deaths have been reported, the waters were almost a metre higher than in disastrous floods in 1996, said Do Minh Quy, chairperson of the Thach Thanh district people’s committee.

“We have evacuated 58 000 of the 148 000 people in our district,” he told said.
“At the moment more than 12 000 people are still isolated.”

“Thousands of people are homeless,” said army Lieutenant Colonel Tran Quang Thanh. “We are trying to bring them clean water. We are afraid the death toll could rise and epidemics may occur.”

Do Thi Lien, a 50-year-old woman in Kim Tan town, said: “My one-storey house is under 2,5m of water. Six members of my family have moved to a nearby hill. We still have no electricity, no clean water, no telephone.”

At the flooded district hospital, local doctor Nguyen Minh Tinh said there had been no electricity or clean drinking water for days, and that many patients had been moved to upper floors and to a nearby high school.

“All water and food to our hospital must be carried in by boat,” he said.

“I haven’t slept for four days,” said another doctor, Mai Thi Thanh. “Many patients are in bad condition, and they could not be moved. We are trying to treat them without running water or electricity.”

An emergency assessment team for Oxfam, UN agencies, the Red Cross and other organisations will travel into the three worst-hit provinces later this week to study the disaster situation and needs there, said one aid official.

“Some areas are not accessible, the water is still high there,” said Oxfam humanitarian programme coordinator Provash Mondal.

At a meeting in Hanoi on Monday, “officials said they need food and water and, in some areas, emergency shelters because the roofs of houses are gone”, he said. “They also need hygiene and medicine supplies and educational materials for the children.”

The typhoon, named after a local tropical fruit, and the ensuing floods have damaged or destroyed nearly 128 000 houses and 162 000ha of rice paddies and other crops in Vietnam, authorities said.

In north-western Son La, bordering Laos, a landslide exposed six Vietnam war-era bombs in the town of Moc Chau, the Thanh Nien (Young People) daily reported, adding that an army unit had so far defused three of them.

Lekima—Vietnam’s fifth major storm of the year—made landfall last Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 117kph, killing seven people in the centre of the country and leaving over 90 injured.

It had earlier hit the Philippines, then classified as a tropical storm, and left nine people dead, also unleashing landslides and floods.—AFP

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