Vietnam suffers relatively less from natural disasters in 2019

By Nguyen Quy   January 2, 2020 | 08:45 pm PT
Vietnam suffers relatively less from natural disasters in 2019
Strong winds caused by Storm Wipha uprooted trees in Hanoi in August 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Fewer storms hit Vietnam in 2019 than in the previous year and the losses they caused fell to a record low.

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said natural disasters, mostly flooding, tropical storms and landslides, left 133 people dead and missing last year, down 40 percent from 2018.

They caused losses worth around VND7 trillion ($302.6 million), a third of the previous year's figure of VND20 trillion ($858 million).

Eight tropical storms and four tropical depressions hit the country last year as against 13 storms and depressions the previous year that claimed 181 lives and left 37 people missing.

In August heavy rains and landslides triggered by storm Wipha, the third storm of 2019, killed 10 people, mostly in northern and central provinces.

In November, typhoon Nakri, the strongest East Sea storm of the year with wind speeds of 115 kph, made landfall between the central Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa Provinces in the south central coast, killing two people.

Late in December Phanfone became the eighth storm of the year, but no loss of life was reported.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam's biggest island, experienced the worst flooding in its history in August after being battered by a record rainfall of 1,170 mm in a week. Some 34 km of roads were submerged under 0.6 - 1.5 meters of water, nearly 3,900 houses were flooded, 14 others collapsed or lost their roofs and crops on a large area were destroyed, and the losses were estimated at VND107 billion ($4.6 million).

Also in August the Central Highlands region that produces most of Vietnam's coffee, a major export, was badly flooded as rivers and streams overflowed. At least 11 people died, over 12,000 houses were inundated, tens of thousands of hectares of crops were damaged, and cattle, poultry and fish were swept away from farms. The losses were estimated at more than VND1 trillion ($43.5 million).

Many experts blamed the severity of the flooding in Phu Quoc on climate change and rapid urbanization, and in the Central Highlands on the profusion of greenhouses in Da Lat, the popular resort town there, and deforestation.

Tran Quang Hoai, head of the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority, said the monitoring and analyses of natural disasters and risks remain limited, especially of flash floods, landslides, large floods, and super typhoons.

According to the World Bank, 70 percent of the country’s population are vulnerable to typhoons, floods, droughts, storm surges, saltwater intrusion, landslides, forest fires, and occasional earthquakes.

The risks are exacerbated by climate change.

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

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