Floods and landslides triggered by severe weather have claimed at least 90 lives, left 32 missing, and affected up to five million people in central Vietnam over the last two weeks, the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control reported Monday, October 19, 2020. The recent deaths occurred Sunday, October 18, when a mudslide hit the barracks in Quang Tri, killing at least 14 military personnel and leaving eight others missing. Officials said this could be the country's largest military loss in peacetime.
A mudslide hit the barracks of a unit of Vietnam's 4th Military Region in Quang Tri Province, killing at least 14 military personnel. The incident happened just days after a previous landslide killed 13 people in the neighboring province of Thua Thien Hue.
"We had another sleepless night," deputy defense minister Phan Van Giang told the media.
The government, confirming the fatalities, said they have "never lost so many military members, including two generals and high ranking officials, in natural disasters."
"There have been four to five landslides, exploding like bombs, and it feels like the whole mountain is about to collapse," commune vice chairman Ha Ngoc Duong told VN Express, a state-run news outlet.
Eleven soldiers are dead and a frantic search is under way for 11 others after a huge landslide hit central #Vietnam, as the country battles its worst flooding in years.https://t.co/2MxHJg05Sd pic.twitter.com/Pwruak3dsz— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) October 18, 2020
What's happening in Vietnam?— alex (@croissantmusain) October 19, 2020
For the last week, my country is suffering from consequences of mayhaps the worse storm season since the last 70yrs, the rains have been prolonged non-stop, which caused immense flooding and landslides/mountain crashes (1) pic.twitter.com/O9OMOoNpR4
Floods and landslides in Vietnam have killed at least 40 people this week. They include workers at a power station and 13 soldiers sent to rescue them.— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 17, 2020
The rains flooded over 200,000 homes and devastated rural areas: "We have been sleeping on a boat for the last 5 nights." pic.twitter.com/1C5MOMzqPD
Mudslide survivor Pham Tan An said he felt "completely powerless" after seeing his comrades buried under the rubble.
"For us who were lucky enough to survive, it’s really heartbreaking to know our 22 teammates didn’t make it. Now, when closing my eyes, all I can think of is us enjoying a meal together."
As of Monday, October 19, at least 12 000 people have been displaced, nearly 45 000 households remain affected, and about 147 houses and more than 70 schools have been damaged or destroyed in Quang Tri alone. Overall, 32 people are still missing.
Almost 1 000 officials and 150 vehicles have been deployed to continue with the operations, despite the harsh conditions caused by floods and the probability of more landslides.
According to the UN Resident Coordinator In Vietnam, at least 136 000 houses have been inundated, 66 500 people displaced, and five million people affected since the flooding started about two weeks ago.
The committee has issued a Level 4 alert, the second-highest level of warning, over the threats of natural disasters in the region.
The provinces impacted the most are Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh. Meanwhile, the Hieu and Bo rivers have hit historically high levels.
Locally heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast over the region on Tuesday, October 20.
Featured image credit: Sỹ Tuyên