LAO CAI — At least five people were killed and five others remain missing after a flash flood triggered by torrential rains swept through northern mountainous Lao Cai Province's Nam Luc Commune yesterday morning.
Deputy Chief of the Bac Ha District's People's Committee Office Dang Van Khoa said that by yesterday afternoon, rescue teams had found the bodies of only five victims.
"We are trying to seek the rest deep in the pile of land, soil, cement and brick. They're likely to be buried under this rubble," Khoa told Viet Nam News from the scene.
"All of the victims are local residents who were swept away with their houses at about 3.20am yesterday morning. They were still sleeping," he said.
The victims are Dao ethnic people, living in ten houses near Nam Luc Stream. All of these houses and crops were completely swept away. Ten other houses were partially destroyed.
"Luckily, the flash flood was 2 kilometres away from a primary and a secondary school. Thus, students can start their new academic year as planned," he said.
Luu Minh Hai, deputy director of the provincial Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said the flash flood was triggered by heavy downpours in the commune that lasted since Thursday night.
"We informed locals about the scattered rain in the province but didn't give any warnings as we couldn't estimate the water level," Hai said.
"It was a partial downpour. The sloping stream in the commune made the flow faster and stronger and caused landslides from the mountain," he said.
Currently, about 300 workers are still working at the scene. Nam Du and Nam Cham villages are still being isolated.
According to Khoa, the rescue work should be carried out faster as the northern region may experience rain in the next three days.
The province has mobilised temporary houses for families of victims and compensated families of the deceased VND3 million (US$144). Those whose houses collapsed received VND2 million ($96).
Heavy rains also caused landslides and blocked rail roads in the province. Nguyen Thanh Tung, representative of the Lao Cai-Yen Bai Railroad Management Unit, said about 40 cubic metres of land and soil poured onto the rail road in Bao Thang District. — VNS