Massive evacuation

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More than 62,000 people will have to be evacuated if a major hydropower dam in central Vietnam is hit and damaged by a strong earthquake, Quang Nam Province authorities announced Wednesday.

Nguyen Ngoc Quang, deputy chairman of the Quang Nam Province People's Committee, said the evacuation plan was approved after a draft plan was thoroughly discussed by relevant agencies.

According to an earthquake disaster scenario sketched out by the province, 730 million cubic meters of water in the reservoir will strike lowland areas through the Vu Gia - Thu Bon rivers system.

If this happens, more than 62,000 residents of 51 communes in eight districts and towns of Quang Nam will have to be evacuated urgently.

Colonel Pham Xuan Thien of the provincial Military High Command said such an event would affect the districts of Bac Tra My, Tien Phuoc, Hiep Duc, Nong Son, Duy Xuyen, Dai Loc, Dien Ban and Hoi An Town.

Hoi An will be among the localities to suffer hardest from the incident.

"Recent studies show earthquakes have been occurring abnormally without any sign of stopping," he said.

Each neighborhood will set up a rescue team of between 25 and 30 people besides rescue teams from local military units. The distance from residents' houses to safe places will range from 0.5 to 4.5 kilometers and tens of thousands of motorbikes and cars will be mobilized to join the rescue mission.

Under the plan, the management of Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant will be responsible for issuing earthquake warnings to local authorities.

Bac Tra My District authorities and the plant management will install an earthquake detecting station at the plant to monitor signs of earthquake around the clock.

At the meeting held to announce the plan, Le Tri Hieu, deputy chairman of the Tien Phuoc District People's Committee, said a detailed map should be prepared depicting areas likely to be inundated to make the evacuation more effective.

Quang said the plan would be modified before it is submitted to the central government and the region's military high command for organizing rehearsals.

The Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Dam is located in the province's Bac Tra My District, where there have been 66 earthquakes between 1715 and November 2012, with a much higher incidence over the past year.

But there were 25 quakes between October 3 and December 16 last year alone.

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