Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A more specific and accurate storm forecast will help mitigate the impact of the natural disaster, according to experts.
The Linda storm, which hit the country 20 years ago, was a great lesson in storm prevention and control tasks, said head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s General Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, Trần Quang Hoài, at a conference held on Wednesday.
The Linda storm made a landfall on the southern region in 1997 with a wind speed at level 9-10 (75-100km per hour) and affected 21 localities. It killed 778 people and injured over 1,200 people, while leaving 2,100 others missing.
It caused a total damage worth nearly VNĐ7.2 trillion (US$320 million).
Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lê Huy Ngọ, said the storm left thousands of people dead and missing in areas such as the southernmost Cà Mau Province where people used to live peacefully for hundreds of years without any concept about “what a storm is.” Many people even called upon others to watch the storm, but no one believed it would turn into a landfall in Cà Mau.
Not only local people, but many local authorities also did not believe that the storm would hit the province, he said.
Their negligence meant that they did not need to take preventive measures or action, and did not guide local citizens to prepare for the storm, which resulted in catastrophic damage, Ngọ said.
Sharing the same view, former head of the ministry’s Department of Dykes, Đặng Quang Tính, said the Linda storm caused serious consequences as a result of negligence in the mindset of natural disaster prevention and control officials.
This was also the reason for ineffective management of fishermen and fishing boats and the lack of a deep analysis on the relationship between storms and terrain conditions of each area, Tính said.
Hoài said that by learning from mistakes of previous storms, authorised agencies should have more effective and practical measures and plans.
Accurate storm forecasting would help fishermen proactively take preventive measures such as finding storm shelters to mitigate consequences, said Vũ Xuân Thành, deputy head of the National Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control.
In recent years, storm forecasting has become more accurate, he said. It is now possible to forecast a storm around 72 hours in advance, before it turns into a landfall. Meanwhile, in 1997, when the Linda storm hit the country, experts could only forecast the storm 24 hours in advance, Thành said.
This will give fishermen, authorities and citizens enough time to prepare, he said.
To cope with natural disasters more effectively, Thành pointed out the need to continue improving the quality of forecasting work, raising awareness of the public, particularly of fishermen, in abiding by local authorities’ guidelines on prevention and control tasks, investing in upgrading shelters for boats operating offshore and upgrading the dyke system. — VNS