Storm churns towards Vietnam

Monday, November 17, 2008

By Ho Binh Minh

A strong tropical storm churned towards southern Vietnam on Monday, threatening a direct hit on the densely populated Mekong Delta and substantial damage to the country’s coffee production.

State-run forecasters said Tropical Storm Noul, with winds of 88 kph (55 mph), would reach landfall around the tourist spots of Nha Trang and Mui Ne late on Monday and cross the coffee-growing province of Lam Dong.

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producer and the third-largest producer of crude oil in Southeast Asia.

Noul’s arrival coincides with the peak of the coffee harvest in the Central Highlands. Torrential rains could halt the harvest and prevent farmers from drying beans outdoors, causing delays and lowering quality.

The storm could also wreak havoc in the delta, which normally avoids the worst of the storms that roll in from the South China Sea, making people who live there relatively unprepared for disaster.

“It could cause huge damage to lives and property,” Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said in an urgent telegraph to provincial authorities and state oil and gas group Petrovietnam.

All offshore oil production remained operational, an official from Petrovietnam said, although state television said Vietsovpetro, a Russian joint venture, would temporarily shut operation on four oil rigs and evacuate workers.

It did not say how much production would be affected.

In his telegraph, Hung ordered the immediate recall of all fishing boats in the area and said children should not go to school as preparations were made for mass evacuations across a 400 km (250 mile) swathe of coastline.

More than 74,000 people needed evacuation while more than 133,000 fishermen had been warned to take shelter as the storm moved to within 100 kms (65 miles) of the coast, the government said.

In neighbouring Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen cancelled a scheduled trip on Tuesday to the coastal province of Kampot, abutting Vietnam, because of the storm.

Vietnamese government reports said more than 17,000 fishing boats were operating near the Spratlys in the path of the storm.

The Mekong Delta, where the latest rice crop has been harvested, is rarely hit by storms. Typhoon Linda caught the region unawares in November 1997, killing at least 464 people. The government never revised an initial tally that listed more than 3,200 people as missing.

(Additional reporting by Nguyen Nhat Lam and Ek Madra in Phnom Penh; Editing by Ed Cropley and David Fox)

Tropical storm to hit Vietnam

HANOI – A STRONG tropical storm is forecasted to slam into Vietnam’s southern coast late on Monday, bringing heavy rains to its central and southern provinces which may disrupt the country’s coffee harvest, state-run radio said.

Storm Noul was moving fast and its damage could be huge, given it would land in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, where residents have little experience fighting storms, the Voice of Vietnam radio said in an urgent bulletin.

The storm could disrupt oil and gas production off Vietnam’s southern coast while heavy rains may halt the coffee harvest about to peak in the country’s Central Highlands. — REUTERS

Tropical storm to hit Vietnam

Vietnam aims for quick full recovery from historic floods

Hanoi was the worst-hit locality during the historic flooding late last month. At least 22 people were reported dead or missing in the wake of the floods.

Hanoi was the worst-hit locality during the historic flooding late last month. At least 22 people were reported dead or missing in the wake of the floods.

Vietnam’s northern and north-central provinces have been asked to marshal all forces to facilitate a swift recovery from the floods earlier this month that caused nearly VND8 trillion (US$472 million) in losses.

“We have to mobilize all necessary resources to stabilize residents’ lives and resume production,” Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung told an online forum on the issue Friday, which was attended by relevant authorities and officials from 18 cities and provinces.

Hung instructed concerned ministries to continue working on sending relief, preventing diseases, providing housing to affected residents, and resuming schools, hospitals and agricultural production.

He also instructed ministry and provincial officials to improve water drainage and irrigating systems and adapt production methods in line with possible disaster conditions.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Friday reported that floods, up till Wednesday, have damaged 30,000 hectares of rice paddies, 210,000 hectares of other crops, 10,000 hectares of fruits and 40,000 hectares of fisheries, with 200,000 livestock having been swept away.

Thousands of houses are still under water and infrastructure has been seriously damaged in many areas, the ministry reported, adding that continued flooding would cause more losses with the winter cultivating season only 15 days away.

In Hanoi, 18,000 hectares were still inundated, including 26 residential areas with 8,700 households, with some areas still under 1.2 meter of water, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Trinh Duy Hung said. The city is projected to spend VND800 billion ($47.2 million) total for relief efforts.

Many other provinces in the Red River Delta also reported that floods have seriously damaged water drainage systems and thousands of households were facing starvation.

Some provinces have requested the government to supply three months worth of rice, estimated to be around 8,400 tons, to feed households in flooded areas. The bill for recovery works is estimated to be some VND1.45 trillion ($85.6 million).

The session Friday also discussed renovating the drainage systems around the Red River Delta.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said VND2.49 trillion ($146.9 million) is needed to construct replacement and additional water drainage systems in the delta over the next two years.

Tropical depression, rough seas kill four

HA NOI — Four fishermen were killed off the coast of Thua Thien-Hue Province in rough seas caused by a tropical depression, said the National Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Control.

The fishermen set sail despite warnings from border soldiers and an order preventing boats from leaving harbour.

Yesterday, the tropical depression was 400km east of the coast of Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan provinces.

Strong winds in the centre of the depression were measured at 39-61km per hour.

At 1pm today, the depression is expected to be at the latitude of 11.4 degrees north and the longitude of 108.9 degrees west, off the coast of Ninh Thuan and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces.

Due to the tropical depression, heavy rains and strong winds are still battering the central provinces and rough sea are expected to last for several days.

The National Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Control and the National Committee for Rescue and Research sent an urgent message requiring the provinces stretching from central Quang Binh to southern Kien Giang and other relevant agencies to implement preventive methods against the tropical low pressure.

Authorities in those provinces must control the movement of boats and broadcast regular weather forecasts.

Officials on off-shore oil rigs areas must also actively ensure the safety of people and property, said the committee.

Rescue teams are on standby.

Strong tides in HCM City hit 1.52m yesterday afternoon, higher than the peak of 1.49 m last November, said the city’s Irrigation Department

Meteorologists are concerned, as this is the first time the flood tides have topped 1.5m, and have asked citizens to prepare for possible flooding in the event dykes do not stand up to high water levels. Areas of concern in HCM City include district 12, Thu Duc, Binh Thanh, Hoc Mon and Cu Chi.

Severe cold spell

Northern Viet Nam is forecast to suffer four to five severe cold spells this January, with temperatures dropping below 15 degree Celsius, said Nguyen Lan Chau, deputy director of the Central Hydro-meteorology Forecast Centre. She noted that cold spells are arriving late this year, with each severe cold spell lasting from three to five days.

There will also be 10 less severe cold spells like the one affecting northern provinces now, said Chau.

Meteorologists said cold weather usually comes in mid-December, so with cold weather predicted until late January, the coming winter will probably last until May.

The cold weather will, however, not affect central and southern areas, expected to reach lows of 18-20 degrees Celsius from November until March.

Residents of mountainous areas like Lai Chau, Lao Cai provinces should be particularly careful this winter, said meteorologists, as temperatures may fall below three degrees Celsius. —VNS

Tropical depression, rough seas kill four

Agriculture production still paralyzed after flood

VietNamNet Bridge – Vegetables and other crops have been lost because of the flood. Farms in the suburb areas of Hanoi have become idle as poultry and animals have either been killed, or bargained away by the owners. The agriculture production remains paralyzed ten days after the flood.

The field without farmers

The inundated field in Ung Hoa district in Hanoi

Rice and vegetable fields in Thanh Oai, Ung Hoa and Hoai Duc districts, which are located along the Highway No. 21, were seen 30-50 cm under water on November 9. From a distance, one would only see a vast sea, while he could not tell the difference if it was a rice field, a vegetable field, a pond, or a lake.

Van Con and Song Phuong, the vegetable granaries in Hoai Duc district, have become empty.

Showing the basket of damaged cabbage, Bui Thi Yen in Van Con commune related that in the days of heavy rain, she and her husband still had to work in the vegetable field, as she feared that the heavy rain would damage the produce. Yen decided to bring vegetables to sell in the inner city to get more money than selling right at the field. She and many other households here have to drive by bicycle under the heavy rain.

Yen said that she dared not to hire pick-ups to carry the produce, which would cost her VND 150,000. She said that she has to save up money, because she has lost much money due to the flood.

The vegetable commune of Van Noi in Dong Anh district has also been suffering from the flood. Tran Thi Hop, Deputy Chairwoman of Van Noi People’s Committee, said that Van Noi has completely lost 120 ha out of 150 ha.

The local residents said that if the water goes down in one week, they will begin growing short term vegetable crops. This means that the vegetable communes will only be able to provide produce to Hanoi in 20 days.

Fish, fowls gone, leaving farmers in sorrow

Quang Dac Hop in Van Con commune in Hoai Duc district related that he previously planned to sell 500 chickens in November 2008, but he was unable to when the flood broke out. Hop said that he couldn’t do anything to rescue the chickens, leaving them to die in the flood.

Bang, Van Con Commune’s Party Committee Secretary, also complained that he has lost nearly all of the 500 chickens he owns in the flood. Bang said that the dead chickens were sold at VND 20,000/1.5kg.

Chuong My district, one of the most severely stricken areas with 2,500 ha inundated, has reported that 60,030 chickens and 657 pigs have been killed.

Hundreds of fowl farms (3,000-10,000 chickens a farm) in Phuong Tien, Nam Phuong Tien, and Thuy Xuan Tien, have all been flooded. These are the chickens which farmers raise for Charoen Pokph and Company. Currently, some 100,000 chickens are being raised on boats or on hills.

Son Tay City is not listed among the severely stricken areas of Hanoi. However, Tran Van Chien, Chairman of Co Dong Cooperative, said that nearly ten pig and fowl farms have been relocated. Some 100 pigs and 2,000 chickens have been killed, while others have been bargained away.

Chien said on November 9 that though the water has been going down gradually, 12 farms had been isolated. Vehicles could not carry feed to the farms as the roads remained between half a metre and one metre under water.

“I have never seen such a heavy rain in the dry season. Farms are now still struggling to repair the flood damage, while no official figure about damages has been released,” Chien said.

Aquaculture proves to have suffered the most in the flood. A household breeding fish in Thanh Tri district complained that they had lost several hundreds millions VND. The north saw 27,000 ha of aquaculture complete lost with the flood, of which Hanoi has lost 9,000 ha. A lot of farmers have suffered financially from the flood, unable to collect any income.

Nguyen Nga

7 days after the floods, still trapped at home

A woman walks at a flooded street in Tan Mai neighborhood of Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. The Vietnamese capital is still pumping floodwaters from city streets and homes after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped large areas of the country and killed at least 92. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

A woman walks at a flooded street in Tan Mai neighborhood of Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. The Vietnamese capital is still pumping floodwaters from city streets and homes after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped large areas of the country and killed at least 92. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Nguyen Thi Hoe has been stuck in her flooded house for an entire week with no running water, no electricity and three restless children. She’s about to go crazy with boredom.

“I feel like I’m in prison,” said Hoe, whose street is still under three feet (a meter) of water and reeks of sewage. “I heard it might rain again and we’ll be stuck here even longer. I can’t take it anymore!”

By Thursday, most of Hanoi had dried off after the worst rains in 35 years flooded neighborhoods across the capital, where 22 people died. But a handful of the hardest-hit areas are still inundated, including the Tan Mai district, where 2,800 houses remained flooded.

Hoe, 40, hasn’t gone outside for seven days. Her husband wades through the filthy water on their lane to fetch clean water and other supplies.

They’ve only had enough water for cooking and brushing their teeth — no showers, no laundry. Dirty clothes are piling up.

A woman walks at a flooded street in Tan Mai neighborhood as a man pushes a boat in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. The Vietnamese capital is still pumping floodwaters from city streets and homes after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped large areas of the country and killed at least 92. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

A woman walks at a flooded street in Tan Mai neighborhood as a man pushes a boat in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. The Vietnamese capital is still pumping floodwaters from city streets and homes after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped large areas of the country and killed at least 92. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Hoe’s 17-year-old daughter, Pham Thi Nhung, finally ventured off to school after five days and came home with a rash on her legs after wading through the filthy water.

“It’s so boring in the house, but going outside is even more terrible,” Nhung said. “My exams are coming and I missed five days of school. What if I fail?”

More than 32 inches (81 centimeters) of rain fell in Hanoi over the last week, with much of it lashing the city over the weekend. Heavy rains also struck nearby northern provinces and parts of central Vietnam.

In all, 93 people died.

By Thursday, most of Hanoi was dry again, and the waters were even starting to recede in Tan Mai, a low-lying neighborhood that gets inundated with runoff from other sections of the capital.

With their toilets not working, many neighbors have been tossing buckets of waste off their balconies to get it out of their houses.

“I’ve never seen anything so disgusting in all my life,” Hoe said. “I’ve never smelled anything so awful.”

Some Tan Mai entrepreneurs crafted boats out of plastic foam and planks of wood and were ferrying people in and out of the neighborhood for a round-trip fee of $3 — a full day’s salary for many people here.

Nevertheless, some were willing to splurge to avoid setting foot in the scummy water.

The water level near Tran Quang Trung’s house had fallen enough to allow him to bathe on the sidewalk — his first bath in a week.

His bathroom was still under three feet (one meter) of water, but Trung, dressed in just a pair of running shorts, cheerfully sudsed himself up with soap and rinsed off using a bucketful of water he managed to bring home.

“This feels fantastic,” he said. “I’m so happy, I don’t care if anyone peeks at me.”

Associated Press writer Vu Tien Hong contributed to this report.

Vietnam: Worst rain in 35 yrs

Hanoi – Pumps ran non-stop in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday to clear water following the city’s worst rainfall in 35 years, in storms that sparked flooding across large sections of the country and left 92 people dead.

Life in Hanoi was slowly returning to normal after a halt in the rains, with floodwaters receding and residents cleaning up their homes.

Another seven bodies were found in northern Vietnam, including two more in the capital, bringing the death toll in Hanoi to 22 and the overall toll to 92, authorities said.

Neighbourhoods submerged

Forecasters said that rain over the weekend was Hanoi’s heaviest in 35 years.

At the height of the flooding, more than 100 Hanoi neighbourhoods were under at least 30cm of water, but by Wednesday only five neighborhoods were submerged, said Nguyen Anh Tu of the city’s drainage company.

“Our main pump station is running 24 hours a day, pumping 4 million cubic meters of excess water a day,” he said.

“We hope the water will recede completely from metropolitan Hanoi in the next two days.”

Cleaning out mud, debris and garbage

Only scattered showers were predicted in Hanoi for the next few days, forecasters said.

Hanoi residents, meanwhile, continued cleaning homes covered with a mix of mud, debris and garbage washed in by the floods.

Nguyen Van Hai, 34, and his family of three moved back home on Wednesday after spending five days with his in-laws.

He had taken the day off to clean his house.

“Our first floor is covered with 10cm of mud,” he said. “It’s so smelly.”

Five more bodies were found late on Tuesday in two northern provinces near Hanoi, Thai Nguyen and Bac Giang.

– AP,,2-10-1462_2421311,00.html