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Deadly floods bombard northern region

Update: August, 03/2015 - 08:06
Residents of Tuan Giao District in Dien Bien Province wade through water to look for furniture that washed away. The district's preliminary estimate of its losses has climbed to about VND110 billion (US$5 million). — VNA/VNS Photo Chu Quoc Hung

HA NOI (VNS) — Continuous torrential rains and floods over the weekend have left three people dead and six injured in the northern mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Son La and Lao Cai. The natural calamity also resulted in the collapse and submergence of hundreds of houses in the northern region.

Earlier, 17 others died and eight were injured in Quang Ninh Province due to torrential rains that started on July 26 and became the province's worst disaster in the last 40 years.

The Office of the National Steering Committee on Disaster Prevention and Control reported yesterday that besides the aforesaid losses, nearly 2,500 hectares of rice and 680 hectares of other cultivated crops were also submerged, more than 11,500 heads of cattle and poultry have died. About 11 kilometres of canals, six reservoirs and 64 small irrigation systems have been destroyed while various transport systems are facing the brunt of landslides with a total of 120,500 cubic metres of soils and stones piling on these systems.

Risks of flash floods and landslides have prompted the need to raise awareness regarding residents' safety. Bac Kan and Lao Cai provinces have taken proactive steps and evacuated more than 107 households in risky areas to safer places.

Torrential rains also submerged streets and residential areas yesterday, causing heavy traffic jams in cities and provinces of Ha Noi, Hai Duong, Nam Dinh and Thai Binh.

In the meantime, the province of Quang Ninh which has remained submerged for a week now, continued to suffer from incessant rain.

More than 500 households in Quang Ninh's Uong Bi City have remained inundated since yesterday morning. Meanwhile, flood waters rose high and went over the dams in Thuong Yen Cong Commune of Uong Bi City, isolating it completely.

Facing a serious situation, authorities of Uong Bi City had to ask the provincial People's Committee for permission to breach the city's key spillway of Sinh River's dam to release water.

"The breaking of the spillway will not affect residents or cause inundation of other areas as water will flow to Da Bac reservoir and flow along the big stream," Chairman of the city's People's Committee, Nguyen Anh Tu, told Dan tri online newspaper.

He also said that the city had decided to buy an additional two lifeboats to rescue people in the affected areas. More than 5,000 people have been mobilised in the city to join in the search and rescue operations.

Meanwhile, all 3,400 people, including stranded tourists and local residents in Quang Ninh Province's Co To Island, had been brought back to the shore safely by last Saturday.

PM's instructions

In an urgent notice issues yesterday by the Prime Minister, municipal and provincial authorities, ministries and agencies were instructed to implement recovery efforts, including search-and-rescue, food and necessity provisions for affected households, monitoring of landslide- and flood-prone areas, and deployment of medical staff for environmental clean-up and epidemic prevention.

The National Committee for Search and Rescue, the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Public Security were asked to direct their units stationed in affected areas to support local residents in the wake of the disaster.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is to assist localities with safely operating dams, draining water and protecting agriculture production.

The Ministry of Transport is responsible for ensuring smooth traffic flow along national highways and dealing with possible incidents on major roads.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been asked to come up with a plan to help workers at the Viet Nam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group in resuming work.

More rains to come

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, moderate-to-heavy rains will continue until tomorrow.

Floods will also occur in the Red River and Thai Binh River system, with a height of up to three to five metres.

There is a high risk of flash floods and landslides in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La and Hoa Binh.

Low-lying areas in Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Thai Binh and Nam Dinh are vulnerable to inundation.

The centre has also forecast three to four spells of hard and medium rains in the north in August as it is normally the main rainy season in the region. It has warned about risks of flash floods and landslides, especially in mountainous areas.

The central region is forecast to have one to two spells of heat but not on a large scale and ones that will not last long as had happened in July. Drought may still happen in some areas in the Central and the South, the centre said.

Lack of electricity

In another news, the Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) has warned of a possible power shortage since coal mining has been halted currently due to torrential rains and floods.

The announcement came after the Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (TKV) said the supply of coal may run out while the transportation of coal was stopped due to the rains.

According to EVN, the main source of coal supply from Quang Ninh, which has the biggest reserves of coal in the country, is now inundated. The Quang Ninh Thermo Power Plant is reported to have just enough coal to keep running for seven more days. The Uong Bi Thermo Power Plant, however, still has coal to run for 20 days.

The EVN called upon people throughout the country to economise the consumption of electricity to reduce pressure on power supply. — VNS

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