Floods exact heavy toll in Vietnam

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A photo taken on October 18 shows houses submerged by flood waters in Tan Hoa District, Quang Binh Province

Devastating floods in Vietnam's central and southern regions have killed at least 59 people and forced thousands of people to flee their homes, the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control reported Wednesday.

Seasonal flooding in the Mekong Delta has claimed the lives of 49 people and inflicted damage estimated at more than VND1.2 trillion (US$57.4 million), with An Giang and Dong Thap provinces suffering the most.

More than 88,000 houses and 22,700 hectares of rice fields have been inundated and 1,472km of dikes damaged.

Meanwhile, floods caused by torrential rains have left 10 people dead, three others missing and forced 6,517 households to flee from their homes in central Vietnam.

Quang Tri Province had the highest toll with five, followed by Quang Binh with three, and Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam with one each.

Three people, two in Quang Tri and one in Quang Binh, are still missing.

Around 75,612 houses and more than 15,600 hectares of paddies and other crops have been damaged by the floods.

In Quang Ngai Province, around 4,500 houses in the districts of Mo Duc, Duc Pho and Binh Son are still submerged by floodwaters. Floods have also caused severe landslides on the Tho An Mountain Pass a key route connecting Binh An Commune with Tho An Hamlet, leaving around 160 households in the hamlet completely isolated.

In Quang Binh Province, all schools in Le Thuy and Quang Ninh districts have been closed to deal with the aftermath of the flooding.

Landslides have also blocked roads leading to mountainous areas in Quang Nam Province.

In Thua Thien-Hue Province, flood waters have receded but some districts are still submerged.

On Wednesday the National Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting Center said that waters in the upper reaches of the Mekong River, Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds) and the Long Xuyen Quadrangle will ebb slowly over the next five days, but remain at high levels until late this month.

Helping out

On Tuesday, representatives from Thanh Nien newspaper arrived in the affected provinces and gave VND5 million each to the families of the dead victims. 

The same day, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul handed over three million baht ($97,500) to the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok to help flood-affected people in Vietnam.

Thailand itself is struggling with the most devastating floods it has faced in 50 years, which has left at least 315 people dead and more than 700,000 houses destroyed.

Australia is helping delivering assistance to families affected by the flooding crises in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced Tuesday that Australia would provide blankets, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, water containers, kitchen sets, sandbags and healthcare services to the eight million people in desperate need across the Mekong basin region and in the Philippines.

The contribution of up to $5.15 million will help repair damaged agricultural land and irrigation systems, he said.

On Tuesday, the United Nations voiced deep concern over the devastating floods in Southeast Asia and offered to assist the affected countries in responding to the disaster that has claimed more than 700 lives thus far and caused heavy damage to property and infrastructure.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters in Geneva that a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team was on standby for deployment in the stricken countries if requested.

CALL FOR HELP

On Tuesday, the People's Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM) under the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations sent letters to NGOs and international organizations in Vietnam, calling for assistance for flood-devastated Mekong Delta provinces.

According to PACCOM, the worst seasonal flooding in a decade has caused huge losses in terms of fatalities and infrastructure damaged in the Delta.

PACCOM pledged it would work closely with local and foreign agencies to provide updates on the situation as well as to provide emergency assistance to the Mekong Delta provinces.

Thanh Nien is calling for donations from its readers, companies and philanthropists to help residents in flood-affected areas. Donations can be sent to the headquarters of Thanh Nien at 248 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (Tel: (84.8) 3839 4046 - 3932 2026 - 3833 2955) or Thanh Nien's representative offices in cities and provinces across the country.

Donations in Vietnamese dong or other foreign currencies can also be sent to Thanh Nien's bank account No. 102010000116341, Vietin Bank Branch No. 3 in HCMC.

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