Heavy rains dumped by a tropical low pressure system and water released from hydropower dams in the central region have caused massive flooding in the tourist hot spot of Hoi An, forcing tourism companies to evacuate thousands of visitors Saturday.
The Hoi An administration Saturday ordered them to take their customers to safe places since many roads in the town were up to two meters under water.
The floods, which have killed at least 31 people -- 13 each in Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai Provinces, two in Quang Nam where Hoi An is situated, and one each in Kon Tum, Phu Yen, and Gia Lai -- are expected to equal or exceed the 2009 record height of 2.8 meters.
Ten people are also missing.
Hoi An, one of the most popular tourism destinations in Asia, now has thousand of tourists staying there.
Police have been stationed on roads to stop tourists from wading or boating in the water to take photos.
Many vendors at Hoi An Market failed to save their goods despite starting to pack Friday night.
Several bridges have been fouled by garbage swirling around them, trees have fallen, and residents and authorities are trying to protect the old houses that are the town's main attraction.
Down in the hardest hit province of Binh Dinh, tens of thousands of houses have been damaged as some people had to spend almost the entire night fleeing from the floods.
Authorities said 15 hydropower dams in the central region started discharging up to 2,400 cubic meters of water a second Saturday morning.
Ho Hoa, a 60-year-old man in Hoi An, was walking around with a cane looking for his pigs and chickens.
He said water had rushed into his house at around midnight and his family had to wade nearly 300 meters to find a safe spot for the night.
"The floods are unusually high, and there was a blackout from Friday afternoon, so we could not be informed through radio or TV.
"Luckily I managed to put several sacks of rice in a safe place. Otherwise we'd have nothing to eat."
His neighbor, Ho Van Thin, 62, said the waters had destroyed his four tons of corn and two tons of cassavas.
"The water kept rising"¦ The damage is uncountable."
The flood waters started receding Sunday morning.
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