20 million Vietnamese to lose homes if sea rises 1 meter: expert

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Vehicles wade through a flooded road during high tide in Ho Chi Minh City's rivers and canals.

A further one meter rise in sea level due to climate change could flood 20 percent of Vietnam and cause around 20 million people to lose their homes, experts warn.

Dr Nguyen Ky Phung, deputy head of the southern office of the Vietnam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday that 39 percent of the Mekong Delta would be flooded, as would 20 percent of Ho Chi Minh City and 10 percent of the Red River Delta.

His institute has predicted that in the coming years temperatures will rise by 1.6-2.2 degrees Celsius in northern Vietnam and by up to 1.6 degrees in the region south of Da Nang, and rainfall will increase by around 6 percent.

Experts at the conference on climate change estimated 10-12 percent of the population to be affected and the country to lose around 10 percent of its GDP.

They were particularly concerned about HCMC, where recent high tides and increasing rainfall have caused a large number of people to live with constant flooding in recent years.

Meanwhile, the tide rose to 1.61 meters in HCMC on Saturday, just below the 50-year high of 1.62 m recorded just last month.

The Southern Hydrological Broadcasting Center had forecast a new record of 1.63 meters.

It said the water levels in the city's rivers have risen by 1.5 centimeters a year, and the sea level in nearby Vung Tau, by 0.8 centimeters.

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Officials from the city Department of Natural Resources and Environment said at the conference that the city does not have enough open and green spaces to allow water runoff.

They called for having fewer concrete buildings and more ecological areas, especially in the flood- and erosion-prone Thanh Da peninsula in Binh Thanh District.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, deputy director of the department, said however that 38,000 hectares of agricultural lands in the city would be lost to new constructions by 2025.

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