More than 70 killed in Vietnam floods

Rain continued to lash Vietnam’s flood-hit capital, Hanoi, and the north-central countryside on Tuesday as the official death toll climbed to 74 after more than a week of heavy downpours.

Thousands of people, including children and the elderly, remained trapped in their water-logged homes in Hanoi, where 20 people have died since last Friday in what officials now call the capital’s worst floods in 35 years.

Authorities worried whether the rain-soaked dyke system around Hanoi and across the northern Red River delta would hold back swollen waterways, and have deployed thousands of troops to stand by for emergency repairs.

Across Hanoi, 44 neighbourhoods remained under between 1m and 2,5m of dirty brown water, raising fears about outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dengue fever, authorities said.

Hanoi officials said more than 9 000 troops had joined rescue efforts and more than 5 000 households had received help—but in many areas residents said there was hardly a police officer, soldier or rescue volunteer in sight.

Schools across the capital remained closed on Tuesday, and hospitals were crowded with cases of respiratory and gastrointestinal disease.

Many districts still had no electricity and suffered shortages of drinking water, while food and petrol prices have multiplied in local markets.

Among those killed in Hanoi were 12 people who were swept away in floods or fell into open drains hidden under flooded roads, four victims of electrocution and two people killed by lightning, said authorities.

Across the disaster region, more than 120 000 buildings have been flooded, 250 000ha of rice and other crops have been lost, and 170kmof rural roads damaged, officials said.—AFP

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