River erosion pulls down 5 houses in Ho Chi Minh City; more families at risk

By Son Hoa   June 26, 2017 | 11:41 pm PT
The disaster sent 27 running for their lives in the middle of the night.

The fear of erosion has become real for five families on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City when their riverside houses collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday.

Dozens of people in a farming neighborhood in Nha Be District woke up in the middle of the night and ran right after the houses started shaking.

Five of the houses were half-swallowed by the Rach Giong River, which runs into the major Soai Rap River. The affected households, with 27 people in total, have lost almost all valuable items.

“I saw everything fall into the river,” said a woman who lived in one of the houses.

Her 27-year-old neighbor Tong Thi Mong Trinh also remembers clearly what happened.

“It was 1 a.m. and the iron roof and the walls were torn apart before they tumbled down."

Trinh said she only managed to save her motorbike, but she lost VND9 million and some gold jewelry in a saving box.

Officials have cordoned off the area and provided the five homeless families with accommodation. They said the incident caused damage worth around VND208 million ($9,150).

Three other houses in the area are also on the verge of collapsing, but there's no evacuation plan yet.

Ho Chi Minh City has identified 47 spots at risk of severe erosion, including 16 in Nha Be District alone.

The Tuesday incident happened several weeks after people in the district were alerted by a crack of 10 centimeters wide on a street running through a different neighborhood around six miles away. Officials have not made any conclusion.

Right next to the megacity, the Mekong Delta  has been hit by more severe erosion of late. The disaster has swept away up to 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land in the region every year.

Experts have pointed fingers to sand exploitation in rivers and the decline of annual floodwaters that build up silt in the region, which they said is a result of construction activities in the upstream parts of the Mekong.

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