Photo credit: Thanh Nien, Tuoi Tre
Floodwaters caused by the tropical depression that began as Typhoon Rammasun has started to recede in the northern highlands, leaving 27 confirmed deaths and streets strewn with garbage in its wake.
On Tuesday morning, the Northern Highlands Flood and Typhoon Steering Committee said at least 27 were killed and two others left missing in the northeastern provinces following flash floods, landslides, lighting and collapsed buildings.
Ha Giang reported the highest casualties with seven deaths.
Bodies were unearthed from the site of two separate landslides on Monday afternoon, following a search that took up most of the morning.
The victims were a family of four, including a 10-day-old baby, a house guest, and two road workers stationed in Hoang Su Phi District.
Lai Chau reported six more victims, Lang Son five, Lao Cai and Son La three each, Cao Bang, Dien Bien and Bac Kan one each. Two others who were swept away in Lang Son and Tuyen Quang Provinces remained missing as of press time.
Rammasun, which was the second typhoon to hit Vietnam from the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) this year, made landfall in Quang Ninh Province on Saturday morning.
No casualties were reported upon its arrival but reports of deaths began tricking in as the storm moved northeast and reduced to a tropical depression.
Damaged roads caused severe traffic jams throughout the region, where hundreds of hectares of agricultural fields and thousands of houses were ruined by floods.
On Monday, the flood waters had receded from the city of Lang Son, leaving streets strewn with garbage, fallen trees and broken furniture. Residents had already begun informal clean-up efforts, as they picked through their mud-stained houses, market stalls and ragged fields.
“Everything is gone,” Hoang Thi Tot, a sobbing 49-year-old chili farmer, told Tuoi Tre after finding her field barren.
Authorities in Lang Son said the flood was the most devastating to hit the province in six years.
Tot said she lost around VND40 million (nearly US$1,900)--much more than she did in the 2008 flood.
“Farmers here depend on chili, water melon and paddy cultivation. But the massive flood rose too fast; we could only run for our lives,” she said.
Her neighbor, Hoang Thi Thuy, kept staring at her devastated chili field with tear-filled eyes, unable to comment.
Her husband, Hoang Van Dau, said they did not imagine that the flood would last for several days.
Several families expressed their regret for not having harvested their crops last week while others worried about how to pay back the seed money they borrowed.
Damages are likely to cost more than VND130 billion ($6.18 million) according to initial estimates complied from all affected provinces.
Some families put up tents along the road as their homes remained devastated with mud and debris.
Tens of thousands of people from Bac Giang, Lang Son, Ha Giang, Dien Bien and Son La Provinces are still without electricity; authorities have warned residents to brace for more landslides.
Rammasun left some 100 people dead in China and the Philippines on its way to Vietnam.