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Floods in north leave 145 dead or missing and communities isolated

Communities in northern Vietnam remain cut off from emergency aid after tropical storm Kammuri triggered floods and landslides that left 145 people dead or missing on 9 and 10 August. Voice of Vietnam

An estimated 145 people are reported dead or missing and more than 4,000 buildings damaged or destroyed in northern Vietnam after tropical storm Kammuri lashed the region with heavy rain and high winds for two days from 8 August, according to the Central Committee for Floods and Storm Control.

In the worst-affected province of Lao Cai, a mountainous region bordering China, 36 people were killed and 38 are missing, according to Vietnamese officials, and in the neighbouring province of Yen Bai, another 33 people have been confirmed dead.

While no exact number of displaced has yet been given, thousands of people have reportedly been evacuated and several communities in northern Vietnam remain isolated after floods and landslides swept away homes and blocked roads. Heavy damage to infrastructure, homes and crops has occurred in Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Phu To, Quang Ninh, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces. The Vietnamese Red Cross Society is undertaking an assessment of the overall damage.

Landslides also stopped trains running between Hanoi and Lao Cai, leaving holiday-makers and foreign tourists stranded on their way to the hill resort of Sapa. Voice of Vietnam, a Hanoi media organisation, reported that 100 tourists were flown out of Lao Cai on 12 August in six helicopters by the Northern Aviation Service Authority.

Photo: Voice of Vietnam
Many communities in northern Vietnam remain flooded with the Red River, the main tributary running through Vietnam’s northern delta, still overflowing its banks
Floodwaters remain high in some northern areas, with the Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting predicting that the Red River, the main tributary running through Vietnam's northern delta, would keep rising in the days ahead.

The Deputy Chairman of Yen Bai People's Committee Nguyen Van Binh stated on 11 August that rescue workers could not reach some flood-hit areas because landslides were still blocking roads, and some bridges and roads had been damaged or washed away.

Army responding

The Vietnamese army is using trucks and boats in an effort to reach people in flooded areas. The government has deployed thousands of soldiers to search for survivors, to help move people to higher ground or safe areas, and deliver emergency supplies.

Troops stationed in northern Vietnam have provided 20 tonnes of rice, 1,000kg of noodles and clothing to people in flooded areas and sent VND 1 million (US$60) to each family of the dead.

The Red Cross Society has donated more than $60,000 to the flood survivors and provided emergency supplies of food and water, clothes, blankets and medicine.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai chaired an emergency meeting on the floods in Hanoi on 11 August. "Top priority will be given to rescue work and delivering food, medicine and other necessities to people in flood-hit areas, including foreign tourists stranded on national highways and at railway stations," he said. Hai has instructed transport officials to clear the blocked routes from Lao Cai to Hanoi and to ensure that Highway 70, the main route linking Yen Bai and Lao Cai, be reopened as soon as possible.

Photo: Voice of Vietnam
While no exact number of displaced is yet known, thousands have been evacuated due to high water or destroyed homes. The Vietnamese Red Cross Society is currently undertaking an assessment of the overall damage
The government has not asked for overseas assistance but the UN is considering, if asked, deploying teams to the worst-affected provinces of Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho to assess the damage.

"It's pretty clear there is a need for further clarification about the need for assistance," the UN Development Programme (UNDP) disaster management programme officer in Hanoi, Ugo Blanco, told IRIN after a meeting between the UN, government officials, donors and international NGOs. He said a decision would be made on 13 August once communication to the flood-hit areas had resumed. "The government has a very long experience in dealing with these kinds of disasters," he said.

The northern region is set for another band of heavy rain in the next few days. Kammuri is the ninth tropical storm to make landfall in Vietnam this year. It lashed China's southern coast last week, causing authorities to call in thousands of boats and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people.


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