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Natural disasters kill 181, cost Vietnam $858 million in 2018

By Nguyen Quy   December 23, 2018 | 08:32 pm PT
Natural disasters kill 181, cost Vietnam $858 million in 2018
Flooding triggered by Storm Usagi demolishes a bridge in Nha Trang in the central province of Khanh Hoa, stranding 300 families in November. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc
The number of tropical storms that hit Vietnam this year decreased against 2017, but human and economic losses were severe.

A report from the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control released late last week said natural disasters, mostly flooding, tropical storms and landslides, killed 181 people and left 37 others missing as of December 20.

The disasters caused damage worth around VND20 trillion ($858 million), three times lower than last year’s figure of VND60 trillion ($2.6 billion).

Vietnam has been struck by 13 typhoons and tropical depressions so far this year, against the 16 tropical storms last year that killed 389 people and injured 668 others, mostly in the northern and central regions, according to official figures.

Last month, torrential downpours triggered by Typhoon Toraji hit the popular resort town of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province hard, and 19 lives were lost.

Several days later, storm Usagi hit the south central provinces, and one man in Ho Chi Minh City died. The country`s biggest city received rainfall of up to 400mm, among the heaviest in its history, according to Le Dinh Quyet from the Southern Meteorological Center.

Vietnam has been deemed one of the five countries most vulnerable to climate change. Despite this, the country is not well prepared for these scenarios, and questions have been raised about its forecasting capabiltities and disaster response mechanisms.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong told at a conference last Friday that Vietnam’s weather forecasting capability "has not met the demand."

"The control and prevention of disaster risks have not been taken seriously by some localities, which led to deadly and extensive damage in Nha Trang last month," he said.

According to the World Bank, about 70 percent of the country’s population is exposed to the risks of typhoons, floods, droughts, storm surges, salt water intrusion, landslides, forest fires and occasional earthquakes. The risks are exacerbated by climate change. The country loses 1-1.5 percent of GDP annually due to natural disasters, according to the World Bank.

Floods and storms are the most common calamities, accounting for more than 40 percent of all natural disasters.

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