Eighteen feared dead in Vietnam landslide


HANOI, Dec 15 (Reuters) – About 18 workers were feared killed in a landslide on Saturday at a stone mine near the construction site of a hydro power plant in central Vietnam, state media reported.

The landslide happened at about 0300 GMT in Tuong Duong district, Nghe An province, burying the workers, their trucks and drilling equipment under rock and clay, the e-newspaper Dan Tri (www.dantri.com.vn) reported.

Officials said explosives were used at the mine on Friday to help remove the stones from the mountain. The stones are used for the construction of the Ban Ve power plant project.

Rescue workers said it could take weeks to remove the rocks to get to the bodies, state media reported. Vietnam state television said no bodies had been found so far. (Reporting by Nguyen Nhat Lam; Editing by Stephen Weeks)

Floods claim 48 in central Vietnam


HANOI, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) — Flooding sparked by torrential rain in Vietnam’s central region has killed 48 local people, left four missing, and injured 209, since Nov. 10, local newspaper Vietnam Agriculture reported Monday.

    The floods also inundated hundreds of thousands of houses, damaged thousands of hectares of paddy rice, and isolated some areas in the region, causing total property losses of trillions of Vietnamese dong (VND) (hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars).

    The Vietnamese government has decided to fund the central localities 205 billion VND (over 12.8 million dollars), 8,200 tons of rice and 250 tons of instant noodle.

    Last weekend, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai came to some central localities to direct the work of overcoming the floods’ aftermath. He has asked local relevant agencies to provide sufficient supply of food and clean water for flood-victims, ensuring that no people would face starvation, and keep environmental hygiene to prevent diseases.

    The region may face a new wave of flooding in the next few days, after a spell of torrential rain, according to the National Hydro-Meteorology Forecast Center. Water in some rivers in the region is rising due to heavy rain.

    Natural disasters including typhoons and hails in Vietnam killed 339 people, left 274 persons missing, and injured 2,065 others in 2006. The estimated losses totaled 18.6 trillion Vietnamese dong (nearly 1.2 billion dollars) in the year.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Rains, floods ravage Vietnam


HANOI, Vietnam, Nov. 15 (UPI) — Four days of heavy rains and flooding in Vietnam have results in the deaths of 29 people and caused much damage, Vietnam News Agency reported.

The country’s lowlands and Central Highlands, which include Quang Tri, Da Nang and Thua Thien-Hue, are the most affected.

At least five people were missing, the office of the dike management and storm and flood control department said.

The report said 130 communes with more than 103,000 homes have been hit by flooding, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Food reserves in some of these areas have been depleted, the report said.

Damage to rice, vegetable, cash crops and aquaculture ponds are reported to be extensive.

More rains are in the forecast.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak announced $1 million in aid to buy blankets, mosquito nets and essential supplies, the report said.

“The flood-struck communities were, in many cases, just starting to recover from the damage caused by the August floods,” the ambassador said.

Central Vietnam struggles with new flood disaster


By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of homes were submerged in central Vietnam, the fifth major floods since August in which hundreds of people have died, roads and railways inundated, crops damaged and water-borne diseases spread. Relief workers delivered emergency supplies of household kits, clean water containers and mosquito nets in the coastal cities of Hue and Danang and the provinces of Quang Tri, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh.

“The water is at very dangerous levels and we are not very clear on what all the needs are,” said spokesman Tao Van Dang of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Hanoi.

“Some people need help for disease prevention.”

Parts of Vietnam have suffered an outbreak of acute diarrhoea, including cholera, in the past three weeks. Dengue and bird flu are also present in the Southeast Asian country.

Rains have disrupted the coffee harvest in the Central Highlands in the past two weeks.

A government report said 61,500 houses were submerged in Quang Ngai province and in Danang. Meteorologists estimated water levels were higher than in October in several northern and central provinces, which were some of the highest in two decades.

This week, the main north-south railway and roads were flooded, confining about 2,500 foreigners among 3,000 tourists to hotels in Hue and other popular destinations. Nearly 150 old houses have been submerged in Hoi An, a World Heritage site.

At least 24 people had been killed and eight missing in floods over the past few days, disaster reports said. About 25,000 people had been evacuated to higher ground.

Floods peaked on Monday following rains of up to 1,450 mm (57 inches). Water levels were receding slowly while more rains were expected by Wednesday, a government report said on Tuesday.

Deaths this week have raised the regional toll to 332 people, 114 of them since Oct. 26. The peak season for storms and floods usually runs from August to the end of October.

The United States said it was sending $900,000 in aid to Vietnam, bringing to $1 million its assistance to help flood victims rebuild houses, resume agricultural production, clean up the environment and help children go back to school.

“The floods struck communities which were, in many cases, just starting to recover from the damage caused by the August floods,” U.S. ambassador to Hanoi, Michael Michalak, said in a statement on Tuesday.

In August, a similar disaster killed more than 80 people and left nearly 1 million people hungry.

(Editing by Grant McCool)

Flooding kills 18 in central Vietnam, raising death toll for November to 69


HANOI, Vietnam: Floods in central Vietnam killed at least 18 people over the weekend, raising the death toll from flooding in November to 69, disaster officials said Monday.

The floods were the fifth round to strike the central region since early October and submerged large areas.

About 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water surrounded nearly 500 old homes in the historic town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, said Mayor Le Van Giang.

“The situation is very dangerous,” Giang said. “Evacuating people is our top priority now.”

The latest flooding killed six people in Binh Dinh province, where many telephone and electrical services were knocked out and about 800,000 people were living in flooded areas, said disaster official Vo Thanh Tien.

“Water is everywhere,” Tien said. “We are trying hard to provide food relief.”

Floods killed 12 people in five other central provinces, disaster officials said.

In one area, flooding washed hundreds of crocodiles from a state-owned farm that held 5,000 of them. Soldiers, militiamen and forest rangers were hunting the animals Monday, said the local provincial governor, Vo Lam Phi.

Using AK-47 assault rifles, soldiers shot and killed 11 crocodiles as they crawled up a river bank toward nearby villages, said Nguyen Nhu Long, an officer with Khanh Hoa military command. Crocodiles are farmed in Vietnam and other Asian countries for their skin and meat.

The crocodiles had escaped into a stream that passes the farm and then joins a river flowing through several villages.

“We have warned the villagers to be careful and asked them to call the authorities if they spot any crocodiles,” Phi said.

Typhoons and floods have killed 211 people since early October in central and northern Vietnam, which is battered by lethal storms every year.

Typhoon weakens, rains to strike flood-hit Vietnam


HANOI (Reuters) – A typhoon heading for Vietnam has weakened before reaching the central coast but was still expected to spew heavy rain on Friday onto a region where floods have killed nearly 200 people over the last few weeks.

The government said it was still urging fishermen back to shelter despite typhoon Peipah, 400 km off Vietnam, weakening into a tropical depression.

Rescue and sea patrols have been deployed off 19 coastal provinces from Quang Binh to Ca Mau, urging fishermen to take shelter, the government said in a report.

Storms and floods have killed nearly 200 people in central provinces since early October, and caused damage of $300 million.

They have delayed the coffee harvest in the Central Highlands coffee belt, squeezing supplies to global markets.

More rain will also disrupt the harvest, which has just started after rain kept growers indoors in the last week of October, the usual start of the harvest.

Rain could also disrupt outdoor drying, delaying the delivery of robusta beans to Saigon Port for loading. It takes about 10 days to pick, dry and bag coffee cherries before delivery to the port in Ho Chi Minh City.

Agriculture and health officials also said receding floods could help spread bird flu now hitting ducks in Quang Tri province and make more people sick with the acute diarrhea which has infected more than 1,200 people in the country.

The government was sending 5,500 tons of rice to feed flood victims in five central provinces as floods and rain have washed away their food stocks.

(Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Michael Battye)

Death Toll Rises From Floods in Vietnam as New Storm Nears


Vietnamese officials say floods have killed at least 77 people in central Vietnam since late last month, and now a new typhoon is approaching.

Typhoon Peipah is working its way across the South China Sea and is expected to dump heavy rains on Vietnam’s central provinces as early as Friday.

Since late October, heavy rains have ravaged parts of central Vietnam, damaging rice crops and forcing schools to close.  State media say at least one million people in the region are facing shortages of clean water and food.

In early October, Typhoon Lekima killed nearly 100 people in the same region.

Peipah passed over the northern tip of the Philippines on Monday, flooding towns and killing at least five people.

Floods and storms kill hundreds of people each year in Vietnam.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Floods kill 46 in Vietnam, Typhoon Peipah nears


HANOI (Reuters) – Floods have killed at least 46 people in central Vietnam in the last 10 days and a typhoon making its way across the South China Sea is forecast to dump more rain this week, reports said on Monday.

The region, which includes the Central Highlands coffee belt, has been hit hard by storms and floods since early October, killing nearly 200 people, causing property and crop damage of $300 million and delaying the coffee harvest by two weeks.

Flooding since October 26 have killed 46 people in nine central provinces and Danang city, reports from provincial disaster management committees said.

Weather forecasters said Typhoon Peipah, which crossed the Philippines island of Luzon early on Monday, would bring rain again on central Vietnam.

The storm killed five people in the northern Philippine province of Isabela and forced 500 people to evacuate their homes, disaster officials said.

The Vietnamese government said a new wave of floods could hit in the next two to three days.

Rains delayed the start of Vietnam’s coffee harvest, squeezing supplies to global markets and thus raised prices on London robusta futures markets to a contract high on November 1.

More rains from Typhoon Peipah, a Chinese word for a popular pet fish in Macau, would further slow farmers’ drying process, delaying the arrival of fresh beans at Saigon Port for loading.

The three-month storm season, packed with up to 10 typhoons, often ends in Vietnam in October but this year tropical storms appear to be hitting later than usual. Peipah is the sixth typhoon forecast to strike Vietnam so far this season.

Flood toll reaches 20 in Vietnam


Hanoi – Floods triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 20 people and injured 31 in central Vietnam since last week, officials said on Thursday as flood levels started to recede.

The floods have also destroyed and inundated more than 15 000 houses and thousands of hectares of rice and other crops in the five central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai, the officials said.

Thua Thien Hue province suffered the greatest human loss with six people reported dead and 26 injured. The dead included two children, 3 and 16.

“We have sent soldiers, doctors and volunteers to help local people to overcome the flood consequences and to make sure that no one is left hungry and homeless,” said Phan Thanh Hung with Thua Thien Hue’s flood and storm department.

The province has provided 380 tons of rice, 26 tons of instant noodles, medicines and canvas tents to flooded areas.

Officials from the affected provinces also reported that the rains have stopped and floodwater have gone down significantly.

“Water is receding, and we are spraying antiseptic to prevent water-borne diseases,” said Phan Van On with the flood and storm department of Quang Ngai province.

So far this year, floods and storms have killed at least 199 people in Vietnam, including about 90 killed in Tropical Storm Lekima and floods triggered by the storm in early October. – Sapa-dpa

Two more provinces hit by bird flu in Vietnam


HANOI (AFP) — Animal health experts said bird flu outbreaks have been reported in two other provinces of Vietnam and warned a high risk of recurrence of the H5N1 virus in the country.

The outbreak in northern Nam Dinh province’s My Phuc commune killed 210 out of the 400 young duckling flocks last Sunday. Tests results showed they had the deadly virus, the national animal health department said in a report received Thursday.

In the Mekong delta’s province of Tra Vinh, the virus has killed also 400 out of the 500 two-month-old ducks in a farm of Thanh My commune last Monday. Samples taken from the ducks tested positive for H5N1, the online report said.

In October, outbreaks of bird flu had already been reported in small farms in northern Cao Bang and central Quang Tri provinces. The infected poultry were mostly ducks, the reservoir for the virus in Vietnam, experts said.

Animal health experts expressed big concerns this week that a new nationwide epidemic could take hold during the winter to come with a cooler weather facilitating the spread of the virus in northern provinces.

Vietnam, once the country worst hit by bird flu in Southeast Asia, had managed to control the situation with mass culls and vaccination campaigns.

But the deadly virus strongly hit the country again last spring.

The human death toll from bird flu in Vietnam has reached 46 since the country was first hit by the virus in late 2003. The global death toll is 204, according to the World Health Organisation.