Natural disasters cost Vietnam $2.3 billion from Jan-Nov: report

By Vi Vu   December 1, 2017 | 01:37 am PT
Natural disasters cost Vietnam $2.3 billion from Jan-Nov: report
A flooded field is seen as a storm hits central Vietnam in September 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham
The losses, including 390 people dead or missing , have already surpassed last year’s numbers.

Vietnam has suffered deadly and expensive damage from natural disasters this year, as floods and typhoons challenged the country’s limited defenses.

A report from the General Statistics Office said natural disasters, mostly flooding and tropical storms, left 390 people dead or missing in Vietnam in the first 11 months of the year, and injured 657 others.

The disasters caused damage worth around VND52.2 trillion ($2.34 billion), with around 620,000 houses either destroyed or damaged, 309,000 hectares (763,500 acres) of farmland flooded, and hundreds of thousands of farm animals, fishing boats and infrastructure simply washed away.

Stormy weather has hit Vietnam hard this year, with 14 tropical storms affecting the country and hitting areas usually thought of as safe.

Typhoon Damrey hit the popular resort town of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province in early November and was the worst storm to hit the region in 20 years.

Damrey alone left 108 people dead or missing and caused damage worth VND22 trillion (nearly $1 billion), accounting for nearly half of the damage incurred from the disastrous weather this year.

This video shows a trail of destruction just a day after the storm made landfall on November 4.

The stormy season has been over, but the 11-month toll has already surpassed last year's losses, when disasters killed 264 people and caused nearly VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion) in damage. In 2015, the damage to property was five times less.

Vietnam is one of the five countries most vulnerable to climate change. Despite this, the country simply isn't well prepared for these scenarios, raising questions about its forecasting capabiltities and disaster response mechanisms.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting in mid-November that Vietnam’s weather forecasting capability “has not met the demands.”

“Several localities were unprepared or didn’t buckle down in the face of disasters,” he said at a meeting with legislators.

In the wake of the huge damage caused by Typhoon Damrey, officials from the transport ministry have blamed incorrect weather forecasts that did not leave fishermen enough time to flee, but the environment ministry said people in the region were also unprepared.

UNICEF said in a statement last month that the lack of communication at community level had led to poor preparations for Damrey, leaving 150,000 children still at risk of malnutrition more than 10 days after the storm had passed.

In October, late forecasting was also blamed after flooding and landslides killed 68 people in one week in northern Vietnam, making it one of the deadliest floods to ever hit the region.

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