Tan Son Nhat Airport was almost shut down after heavy rain and a poor drainage system caused severe flooding at the country's biggest airport earlier this month, an official said.
Pham Vu Cuong, the airport’s deputy director, told local media on Thursday that heavy rain on October 9 flooded certain areas of the airport in up to 20 centimeters of water, threatening the power station of the air traffic control tower.
“Flooding was most serious at around 4 p.m. Luckily, rainfall fell gradually and the flood had receded by 8 p.m.”
Cuong said his employees had to use sandbags in an attempt to keep the water out.
"If the control tower's electricity station had been damaged, the airport would have been closed," he said.
Early this week the airport requested local authorities to take measures to remove houses illegally occupying the surrounding areas, saying they have blocked up sewers and canals near the airport.
Cuong said many residents also discharged waste into the canals.
The airport had made a similar request once before, after battling severe flooding on August 15 and 16.
“While waiting for local authorities to take action, the airport has bought sand bags and pumping machines for emergency response to heavy rain,” Cuong said. “Otherwise, the consequences could have be very serious.”
The bustling Tan Son Nhat Airport received more than 22 million passengers last year, with more than 40 airlines operating around 360 flights every day.
Last November, the airport's air traffic control tower experienced a 90-minute blackout, affecting nearly 100 flights.
Investigators later found that Le Tri Tinh, chief technician in charge of power supply, was responsible for a malfunction in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices.