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10,200 areas face landslide threats

Update: February, 15/2019 - 09:00
Landslides on a highway section connecting Sơn La and Điện Biên provinces hinder traffic. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Dũng
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has more than 10,200 sites prone to landslide risks located in ten northern mountainous localities, according to Việt Nam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources under Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Trịnh Xuân Hòa, deputy head of the institute told Vietnam News Agency that landslides and flash floods that cause serious consequences of human losses and property damage frequently occur in the recent years in provinces of Lào Cai, Sơn La, Yên Bái, Hòa Bình, Lai Châu and Thanh Hóa.

Abnormal weather conditions such as prolonged torrential rain and human activities including deforestation, mineral exploitation, construction are the main causes of landslides, threatening community safety.

Flash floods and landslides in June last year in northern mountainous localities swept away 176 houses, damaged 1,270 others and destroyed more than 1,000ha of rice fields. As many as 33 people died and went missing. The total damage was estimated at some VNĐ535 billion (US$22.8 million).

During the 2000-15 period, there were 250 flash floods and landslides nationwide with 779 people being killed or going missing, 426 others injured. Economic losses were up to dozens of trillions of đồng, according to Natural Calamity Prevention and Control General Department.

Dr Nguyễn Đức Mạnh from University of Transport and Communications said that Việt Nam has had a number of geological studies on landslide risks and mapped landslide areas, however, a lot of managers lack attention to landslides.

“When each rainy season comes, many areas are put on the red alert of landslides like Xín Mần Town of Hà Giang Province. Although the disaster risks have been pointed out by researchers and the Government has ordered natural disaster prevention, reduction and responding plans, localities remain passive in addressing the problem due to lacking budget,” he said.

“We are fixing landslides at single points where buildings or traffic infrastructure are located. Most of landslides are fixed only when they happen but we have not thought about sustainable solutions for the whole residential areas,” he said.

Deputy head of Việt Nam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources Trịnh Xuân Hòa said that landslides can be prevented by planting more trees in protective forests, recovering natural forests, stopping planting trees for exploitations purposes and not building residential areas near landslide risk-prone sites.

Local people should be aware of how to respond to and reduce damages caused by landslides during rainy season. Alert devices must be installed at areas prone to high risks of flash floods and landslides, he said.

According to Hòa, there are several solutions to relocate residents from areas prone to landslides. One of them is to move risk-prone people to live in safe community. This solution does not need much infrastructure investment but requires local authorities to offer assistance to people newly moving in.

Another solution is to map safe zones and move all risk-prone residents to resettlement areas. But this solution needs local land space.

In case there are no land funds, local authorities should build dams, embankments and plant protective forests to reduce natural calamity damages.

Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources has completed landslide map for 18 out of 37 northern mountainous areas and is doing more research to update communes’ landslide details which serve as a reference for localities to relocate residents out of risky areas. — VNS



Traffic is blocked after a landslide in Sa Pa District, northern province of Lào Cai last month. Abnormal weather conditions such as prolonged torrential rain and human activities such as deforestation, mineral exploitation and construction are the main causes of landslides in Việt Nam, threatening community safety.— VNA/VNS Photo Hương Thu

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