Over 1,500 stuck on flooded Phu Quoc island as airlines cancel service

By Doan Loan, Hoang Hanh   August 9, 2019 | 07:09 pm PT
Over 1,500 stuck on flooded Phu Quoc island as airlines cancel service
Passengers are left stranded on Phu Quoc, the biggest island in Vietnam, on Friday night as heavy downpours forced airlines to cancel flights. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dung.
Continuous downpours flooded the runway of Phu Quoc airport on Friday and prompted airlines to cancel flights, leaving 1,560 passengers stranded.

Prompted by floods triggered by heavy rains for days, the Phu Quoc International Airport was closed temporarily from 9 a.m. on Friday.

The airport, which connects Vietnam's largest island with major cities Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and several Asian destinations, saw its runway submerged by 0.3 meters on Friday.

"The airport could not receive arriving flights. The weather conditions did not ensure safety so we had to suspend all flight services," said Nguyen Minh Dong, director of the airport.

Dong said right after the airport resumed operation at 8:30 p.m., five flights took off, carrying around 1,000 passengers out of the island off Kien Giang Province.

However, a number of flights scheduled for Friday evening and night were canceled, leaving 1,560 passengers stuck on the island.

Vietjet Air suspended two flights on Friday evening to Hanoi and two others to HCMC.

Vietnam Airlines and Vasco canceled all flights to and from the island on Friday while Jetstar Pacific called off four flights.

All airlines have had plans to resume their flights on the Phu Quoc route on Saturday and add additional flights to the route.

Dung, from Duong Dong Town of Phu Quoc, said Friday that she had missed a meeting with a business partner in HCMC as her flight at 5:50 p.m. had been canceled. "We all need to go to the mainland but we are also very concerned as the weather is still very bad,"she said.

Phu Quoc, a top tourist attraction of Vietnam, has been battered by continuous heavy rains since August 2. The rainfall recorded on the island the past week by the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting was 1,100 mm, a record.

Rainfall of 335 mm was recorded between Thursday night and Friday afternoon. A level of 180 mm a day is considered heavy.

Severe flooding has caused damage worth VND107 billion ($4.65 million) on the island, the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control said.

The island’s administration has said earlier that this flooding and heavy rains are the impact of climate change and rapid urbanization to serve its tourism boom, which has rendered its drainage system ineffective.

With a total area of 589.2 square kilometers (145,600 acres), Phu Quoc is home to 145,000 residents. It received 407,000 visitors in July alone.

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