Red Cross Society's members provide emergency aids to residents in flood areas in the central region. — Photo VNRC
HÀ NỘI – All administrations and agencies have been placed on alert for Storm Sarika even as several central provinces reel under the impact of severe flooding damage.
Heavy rains and flooding in the central region, including the provinces of Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế, have claimed 15 lives and injured 18 others. Nine others have been reported missing, according to the latest report from the National Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Prevention and Control.
Quảng Bình has been hit the hardest thus far, with nine people dead, including two children. Flooding has been extensive, with the water 2.5m deep in some areas. Flash floods have caused severe land erosion.
Nearly 100,400 houses, 1,600ha of rice and over 3,000ha of aquatic farms have been inundated. As many as 36 national road sections have been flooded or damaged, leading to traffic congestion.
The standing board of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control met yesterday to direct flood relief operations in the region.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoàng Văn Thắng, who is also deputy head of the committee’s standing board, asked affected localities to keep a close watch on the rainfall and flood situation, step up search and rescue operations, evacuate people from areas prone to flashfloods and landslides, and repair infrastructure including roads.
He called for reservoirs to be monitored so that the release of water does not endanger downstream residents.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Dũng arrived in Quảng Bình province on Saturday. He directed local authorities to supply food to affected residents, mobilise resources to manage supply of clean water and ensure hygiene in all activities to minimise the outbreak of diseases.
He also warned of the risks posed by storm Sarika and exhorted related agencies to step up preparations.
On Saturday, local and railway authorities succeeded in evacuating 1,300 railway passengers, including 96 foreigners. The passengers were stuck in areas prone to landslides after local railway tracks went under water.
Also on Saturday, the Prime Minister sent a message to affected provinces and relevant ministries, farming out specific tasks and urging them to make all-out efforts to handle the flooding and its aftermath.
The message noted that due to a concurrent tropical depression and cold spell, rainfall of between 300-400mm was reported in provinces since from Hà Tĩnh to Thừa Thiên-Huế since last Wednesday.
Water levels were raising steadily in downstream areas and there was high risk of flash floods and landslides in mountainous areas, the message noted.
Donation campaigns have been initiated nationwide to provide succour to flood victims in the central region. Several groups including residents of HCM City have reached Quảng Bình with instant noodles, medicines and water filters.
The Việt Nam Red Cross Society yesterday decided to provide aid worth VNĐ1.97 billion ($88,600) in cash and goods to four central provinces – Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình and Quảng Trị.
The National Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and the National Steering Committee for Search and Rescue Operations held a teleconference with authorities of 22 localities from Hải Phòng to Quảng Bình, discussing measures to cope with Storm Sarika, which entered the East Sea yesterday morning.
At 8am yesterday, the centre of the storm was on the western coast of Luzon Island with winds of up to 150-165km per hour, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
In the next 24 hours, the storm is predicted to move west-northwest and then westwards at a speed of 20-25km per hour. At 7am today, it is expected to be located at about 250km east of the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
Sarika can sustain winds of up to 150-165km per hour, it said.
Nguyễn Xuân Cường, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who heads the National Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention, said Sarika was a strong storm with “complicated developments.”
It was coming at a time when prolonged rains and floods have hit the northern central region hard, and reservoirs are already full, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Dũng asked local authorities to keep a close watch on the storm, and warn owners of ships operating offshore, advising them to move out of danger areas.
He also required localities to check the safety of reservoirs, particularly those that are already full, review the situation on aquaculture farms and prepare to evacuate at short notice people residing in flood and landslide prone areas. — VNS