Vietnam helicopters evacuate flood survivors as new storm nears

Flood-affected Vietnamese people carry a television set as they evacuate to safe areas

Flood-affected Vietnamese people carry a television set as they evacuate to safe areas

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam used army helicopters on Tuesday to evacuate thousands stranded by tropical storm Kammuri, which has killed at least 113 people, as forecasters warned of more bad weather ahead.

Disaster relief workers kept searching for 45 people still missing since heavy rains pounded the mountainous north for three days starting last Friday, swelling rivers and triggering deadly mudslides and flash floods.

Troops were rushing water, food and medicines to villagers, many from ethnic minorities, who have remained isolated by floods and blocked roads and rail lines in the mostly poor region near the Chinese border.

Some 2,700 troops and helicopters have been mobilised to evacuate more than 5,000 residents to safer areas in the worst-hit Lao Cai and Yen Bai provinces, said the national flood and storm control committee.

Meteorologists warned that more rain storms would hit within one or two days, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered local authorities to mobilise all forces to help victims and ready for more possible floods.

In Lao Cai — where 49 people have died in the worst storms to hit the region in decades — hopes of finding the 37 people still missing were now fading, said Thao A Tua, a provincial emergency services official.

“In several areas, mud and rocks from the mountains have buried entire villages,” he told AFP. “The search effort has been difficult because we don’t have equipment and the digging has to be done manually.

“We are trying our best, but we really think they have all died. Their bodies might be buried below the rubble, and they could even have been swept away, down the Red River.”

Across the north, more than 670 houses have been destroyed, over 17,700 buildings flooded and damaged, and 14,000 hectares (34,600 acres) of crops wiped out, the central government said.

AFP: Vietnam helicopters evacuate flood survivors as new storm nears

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