18 dead, 13 missing after northern flash floods, landslides

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At least 18 people are dead and 13 others missing after incessant rain over the weekend triggered flash floods and landslides in northern provinces.

Rain has been pummeling the north since last Friday and experts warn of more floods to come.

The body of 53-year-old Luc Van Quynh from Na Hoi Commune in Lao Cai Province's Bac Ha District was found Sunday after he was reportedly swept away by strong currents when his boat capsized on the Nam Cay River on Saturday.

The deceased man was found clinging to a log some 500 meters from where his boat had overturned. Earlier, rescuers and locals had spent 15 hours searching for him.

In Bac Kan Province's Pac Nam District, a landslide triggered by heavy rain on Friday night buried nine houses in Cong Bang and Nhan Mon communes.

As of Sunday, rescuers had found the bodies of 13 Bac Kan Province residents, while 11 more were still missing.

Hoang Van Di, a resident in Pac Nam District, told Vietnam News Agency that many residents had been evacuated and have not yet returned home out of fear of more floods and landslides.

Ma Van Thoa, head of Na Be neighborhood in Nhan Mon Commune, said a flash flood struck at around 1 p.m. on Friday and swept away almost everything in the community. Three people died immediately in the sudden flood while two others were injured. In total, 14 houses were damaged, he added.

Na Be locals Sunday found the body of 39-year-old Ca Thi Huu, who had gone missing after the flood.

The body of her father-in-law, Chu Van Toc, was found on Saturday after being swept away by the fast-moving water while he was helping a neighbor transfer property to a safe place. The woman's husband, Chu Thanh Van, was also seriously injured in the incident.

Landslides have also blocked several sections on the provincial road 258B, causing severe gridlocks.

The Bac Kan Committee for Flood Prevention and Control Sunday said the number of fatalities was expected to rise as search-and-rescue efforts continued.

In Ha Giang Province, two residents were swept away over the weekend while crossing a flooded stream in Bac Me District. The two dead were identified as Giang Thi My and Leng Sao Vui from Hoang Su Phin District.

Bac Me District authorities said the flood had damaged crops and traffic works, with material losses estimated at more than VND10 billion (US$562,000).

Floods also inundated several areas in the province's Ha Giang Town, with water levels reaching up to 50 centimeters in some places.

In Cao Bang Province, the agency for irrigation and flood prevention reported that a child had been killed by a sudden flood in Bao Lam District. Two more people were injured and another two were missing, it added.

Around 315 hectares of rice and other crops in Bao Lam and Bao Lac districts were inundated, while the flood damaged 16 houses and several local roads. More than 500 houses in the province's eponymous town were also flooded.

In Son La District, 30-year-old Nguyen Van Cong was swept away by a flash flood over the weekend while crossing the It Pieng Bridge in Muong La District.

The Central Committee for Flood Control and Prevention has ordered agencies to let water out of the reservoir at the Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant to ease inundation in the upper stream of the local Da River.

The committee also instructed local agencies to expedite rescue and relief efforts in affected provinces.

The National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting on Sunday warned more floods could occur along the Da River system, mostly affecting the Da and Lo rivers.

The center also reported record water flow of 5,800 cubic meters per second in Nam Mu River, while water at the Tuyen Quang Reservoir is flowing at a record of nearly 8,000 cubic meters per second.

The national weather center predicts more rain over the coming days but the worst of the deluge is expected to end tomorrow. People should take caution against the possibility of more flash floods and landslides in northern provinces, the center added.

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