Flash flood death toll climbs to 10 in northern Vietnam

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 Can Ho A Village in Sa Pa District, the northern highlands province of Cao Cai , was buried by rocks and mud by a flash flood that swept through on September 4

Rescuers retrieved the body of the tenth victim to be killed by flash floods that struck the northern highlands province of Lao Cai this week, and fear the last missing person, a two-month old baby, will never be found.

The body of Tan Liu May, 54, was found on Friday in a stream some six kilometers from Can Ho A Village in Sa Pa District, where the flood swept through two days before.

The death toll has climbed to ten, and the sole missing victim, Chao La Tao, was still nowhere to be found, Col. Cao Dac Cu, deputy head of Lao Cai's flood prevention committee, said.

He said it is very likely the baby's body is under a mass of rocks and mud and therefore is no longer intact, making it all the more difficult to recover.

However, rescuers are continuing their search, according to the official.

Cu dismissed suspicions that the flash flood, which also left 12 others injured, was caused by a broken hydropower dam, saying it was "purely" a natural disaster caused by the accumulation of lasting rains in more highly elevated areas.

Grieving

As of Friday, eight of 12 survivors remained at Sa Pa District's General Hospital to have their injuries treated as they mourn the deaths of family members.

Ha Thanh Son, a 33-year-old teacher, said his family brought the body of his two-year-old son to his hometown in the northern province of Bac Giang to be buried on Thursday.

Due to their injuries, both Son and his wife, 30-year-old Dao Thi Thuy, could not attend the funeral.

Son said he was working at home on Wednesday night when he felt the floor shaking. Thinking it was an earthquake, he yelled for everybody to flee the house; Thuy grabbed her son before rushing out.

But, the flood quickly inundated Son's house, trapping his family in mud. It swept them for hundreds of meters before they managed to hold onto parts of a nearby construction site.

However, Thuy lost her son in the flood's strong current.

Meanwhile, Chao Rao Niem lost five members of his family, including his wife, his daughter, and his two-month old son who remains missing.

Niem said the flood happened when his family was sleeping so they could not flee quickly. The man was also swept away with his family, but managed to hold onto an object on the way.

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On the other hand, some like Doan Quang Trung and his wife Bui Thi Thu Ha, not only survived but also managed to save their unborn child, despite struggling in the flood's current for half hour.

Trung said he kept Ha, who is seven months pregnant, in his arms, keeping her above the water and mud whenever possible. They were rescued after getting stuck down stream.

Dr. Nguyen Minh Phuong said the baby's health was quite good, even though the mother had been hit by rocks and wood when she was swept away by the flood. 

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