159 succumb to floods, landslides in central Vietnam

By Huu Cong, Tat Dinh   October 30, 2020 | 02:55 am PT
159 succumb to floods, landslides in central Vietnam
A girl receives first-aid after having been rescued from a landslide in Quang Nam Province, October 29, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
At least 159 people have died during floods and landslides triggered by storms and heavy rains in central Vietnam this month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting Friday.

Natural disasters in central Vietnam this year have caused great damage to both lives and property, Phuc told a government meeting on the country's socio-economic status in the first 10 months of this year. Among the casualties were military officers and officials.

"Many of our people, who we have failed to find, remain lost at sea or buried across mountainous areas," Phuc said.

At least 71 people are still missing.

Authorities, especially the military, are sparing no effort to rescue victims of natural disasters, he noted, adding many communities have expressed their solidarity with citizens in central Vietnam.

"We share the loss of our people in central Vietnam, and of the soldiers and police officers who have lost their lives," he said, requesting relevant ministries and other authoritative entities help central Vietnam overcome these trying times.

Within the span of a single month, central Vietnam has faced five storms and two tropical depressions, bringing with them heavy rains, floods and landslides, said Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Storm Molave, which made landfall Wednesday morning, is one of the two most powerful Vietnam has seen in the last two decades and has caused severe damage, he said.

"Despite traveling at the same wind speed, Storm Molave is even more severe than Xangsane in 2006 as it directly hit central Vietnam, already inundated by floods. From Molave’s formation to its landfall in Vietnamese took only three days," Cuong said.

Prior preparation and coordination when the storm had yet to enter the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, served to mitigate Molave’s damage, he added.

Besides human casualties, Molave has also damaged around 92,000 houses, 88,000 of which are in Quang Nam. A total 5,000 houses have completely collapsed, while over 600 schools and hospitals were damaged. The neighboring province Quang Ngai is now experiencing a total blackout, which could last for about two more days, Cuong said.

As of Friday, rescue efforts are ongoing both at sea and on land for natural disaster victims. Three fishermen among 26 aboard two boats that sank Tuesday night in Storm Molave were rescued by a Hong Kong cargo vessel, Tran Chau, deputy chairman of central Binh Dinh Province, said Friday. A total 23 remain missing.

On land, hundreds of soldiers, police officers and residents are still searching for victims of a landslide in Tra Leng Commune of Quang Nam’s Nam Tra My District. The landslide, which occurred Tuesday, buried 53 people, killing at least eight and injuring 33. Twelve are still missing.

Rescue efforts are also ongoing for another landslide in Quang Nam’s Phuoc Son District that hit Friday. Eleven people were buried, with five confirmed dead and six still unaccounted for.

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