Death toll from Vietnam storm tops 60 and dams near bursting

By VnExpress, Reuters   November 6, 2017 | 08:00 pm GMT+7
Death toll from Vietnam storm tops 60 and dams near bursting
People ride a boat along submerged houses in UNESCO heritage ancient town of Hoi An after typhoon Damrey hits Vietnam November 6, 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Many reservoirs are nearly full now and could burst at any time after Storm Damrey leaves a trail of destruction in the region.

The death toll from a typhoon and ensuing floods in Vietnam reached 61 on Monday and the government said some reservoirs were dangerously near capacity after persistent rain.

Typhoon Damrey tore across central Vietnam at the weekend just days before the region is due to host the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, among them U.S. President Donald Trump, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The country's Search and Rescue Committee said 61 people had been killed and 28 were recorded as missing. It said some of the victims were in vessels that capsized at sea. Others were killed in landslides. It did not give a full breakdown.

More than 2,000 homes had collapsed and more than 80,000 had been damaged, it said. Roads that had been flooded or washed away caused traffic jams across several provinces.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired an emergency meeting on the disaster. Ministers said that because some dams were so full, water might need to be released to relieve pressure - potentially worsening flooding downstream.

Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, warned at a meeting Sunday that many rivers and reservoirs were nearly full now, implying they could burst at any time.

"We are facing possibly the worst-ever peril," Cuong said at the meeting.

In Da Nang, authorities called on soldiers and local people to clean up so that the beach resort would be ready for delegates to the meetings of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries, which started on Monday.

Leaders are due to meet from November 10 and organizers said the schedule had not been disrupted because of the weather.

But in much of the ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site that spouses of APEC leaders are scheduled to visit on Saturday, muddy waters rose to head height and people boated through the streets.

Hoang Tran Son, 37, who left his home there when the water reached his chest, said it was the worst flooding he had seen for decades.

“We’re pretty much all right in the city, but people in remote areas are devastated,” he said.

The storm moved from the coastal area into a key coffee-growing region of the world’s biggest producer of robusta coffee beans. The typhoon had damaged some coffee trees at the start of the harvest season, farm officials said. But farmers in Daklak, the heart of the region, said the damage was limited.

Authorities said that more than 7,000 farm animals had been killed.

Floods killed more than 80 people in northern Vietnam last month, while a typhoon wreaked havoc in central provinces in September. The country of more than 90 million people is prone to destructive storms and flooding, due to its long coastline.

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Flooding has held up traffic on the north-south highway in Thua Thien Hue Province. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan

The heaviest impact of the typhoon was near the popular resort town of Nha Trang, which is around 500 km (310 miles) south of the coastal city of Da Nang, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is taking place this week.

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Nha Trang has been among the hardest hit by the typhoon. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc

Danang itself also suffered. A gateway proclaiming "Welcome to Da Nang" collapsed in the storm, state media said. Authorities in the area called on citizens to volunteer to help clean up.

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A gateway proclaiming "Welcome to Da Nang" collapsed in the storm. Photo by VnExpress

Da Nang will host U.S. President Donald Trump from Nov. 10, as well as China's Xi Jinping, Russia's Vladimir Putin and counterparts from other APEC members.

The storm moved from the coastal area into a key coffee-growing area of the world's biggest producer of robusta coffee beans. Traders had expected the storm to delay harvesting, but were not sure whether it would damage the crop.

The government said on Saturday more than 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) of crops had been damaged, including sugar cane, rice fields and rubber plantations.

Floods killed more than 80 people in northern Vietnam last month, while a typhoon wreaked havoc in central provinces in September. The country of more than 90 million people is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline.

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Damrey touched down in Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces early Saturday with wind speed of 135 kilometers (83.9 miles) per hour. In this photo, metal roofs are swept to National Highway 1 in Khanh Hoa.

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The storm knocks down a gas station in Khanh Hoa...

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... and floods many streets of Nha Trang, a popular resort town in the province.

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A car is buried under metal roofs in Nha Trang. 

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A restaurant on Tran Phu Street of Nha Trang totters in the strong wind. Locals said strong winds and heavy rains have started since midnight on Friday. As the storm came closer the situation kept getting worse until morning.

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An electric pole in Khanh Hoa. Many areas in Khanh Hoa have lost power.

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This is how the coach station in Nha Trang looks like now. 

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Residents in Nha Trang have been evacuated to safe areas. The storm has killed one child in Nha Trang and two people in Phu Yen, leaving many others missing. 

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A tree is uprooted in Tuy Hoa Town of Phu Yen Province. Hoi, a 40-year-old local in Tay Hoa District, said he has never seen such a big storm in Phu Yen since 1993.

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A street in Tuy Hoa Town.

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Weather forecasters said heavy downpours will continue to drench cities and provines from Quang Nam to Khanh Hoa in the next 6-12 hours, followed by a high possibility of flash floods and landslides. They said Damrey will get weaker and turn into a tropical depression in the coming hours. By Saturday noon, it will reach Cambodia with an expected wind speed of 40-50 kph. Saigon and southern provinces have been left untouched during the storm.