At least 90 dead, 32 missing and 5 million affected as more floods and landslides hit central Vietnam

At least 90 dead, 32 missing and 5 million affected as more floods and landslides hit central Vietnam

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. 

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

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