Fear of erosion spreads to Saigon after riverbank road cracks

By Duy Tran, Huu Cong   May 31, 2017 | 08:13 pm PT
Some locals have evacuated the area for fear their houses will be washed into the river.

Locals living near the Tom Canal on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City were greeted to the sight of a long crack running along the road in front of their houses on Tuesday morning.

The crack, only 3 meters (10 feet) away from the riverbank, was about 40 meters long and 3-10 centimeters (1-4 inches) wide. Local authorities have warned of potential erosion, which could result in houses sinking into the canal at any time.


The crack on the road along the Tom Canal. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran.

Vo Van Hoan's house was the hardest hit. The wall in his front yard has a crack 2-10 centimeters wide, while a long, narrow crack has formed in the concrete yard. His family has temporarily moved to a friend's house.

“I woke up to find a massive crack along the road in front of the house. There are cracks all over my house too. This has never happened to this neighborhood before, so people are panicking,” said Hoan.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, Hoan's next door neighbor, was also worried about the crack due to other cases of erosion recently reported in the Mekong Delta.

“My family can't sleep at night. We're afraid that the whole house might sink in the middle of the night, so we have to stay up to keep an eye on the children and our property,” Lan said.

Another resident named Cuong was more optimistic than his neighbors. The river bank in the area is smooth and doesn't have deep holes so there shouldn't be any sudden landslides, he said.


A large crack in Hoan's house. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran

Local authorities have arranged temporary shelter for people living in the endangered area and are prepared to provide locals with immediate support should an incident occur.

The cracks on the surface of the asphalt road and on the walls of the affected houses appeared at 5-6 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Inland Waterway Management Board.

The part of the road near the river sunk by 3-5 centimeters, and the river bank has yet to be reinforced. If a landslide occurs, it will directly affect an area of 500-600 square meters, which includes 7-8 houses.

The board has recommended local authorities to fence off the area and erect warning signs until the city's Department of Transport can come up with a solution.

Erosion in the Mekong Delta is getting more and more serious and up to 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land is swept away each year, according to official data from the agriculture ministry.

The decline of annual floodwaters that build up silt in the region and sand exploitation have been blamed as the two main reasons for the problem.

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