Vietnam metro flooded by high tides

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High tides on the Saigon River over the past few days have flooded Ho Chi Minh City streets, adding to the city's plethora of seemingly insurmountable traffic troubles.

According to the Southern Region Hydro-meteorological Center, the tide started rising several days ago and reached a peak of 1.62 meters on Thursday morning, lower than the record it set October this year.

Many streets were under 30-40 centimeters of water Wednesday morning, which caused gridlock during rush hour.

The worst-hit areas were districts 2, 7, 8, Binh Chanh, Nha Be and Thu Duc.

Many motorbikes broke down and people had to push them in knee-deep water.

On October 20, the tide in HCMC reached a 61-year record high at 1.68 meters, far higher than predicted. That level broke the historic high record of 1.59 meters recorded last year.

The high tides submerged a series of streets under half a meter of water, causing disorder. An embankment section in Binh Thanh District broke and most embankments in suburban areas overflowed with water, causing severe flooding.

According to a recent study by the National University Ho Chi Minh City's Geoinformatics Center, parts of the southeastern region and the Mekong Delta are sinking, with HCMC suffering the most.

Researchers have found many places in HCMC sinking by up to 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) a year.

The center said the city has been sinking since 1996, with the speed increasing gradually since 2004.

According to the city Department of Natural Resources and Environment, many parts will sink a further 12-20 centimeters by 2020.

Besides geological factors, the surface is sinking also due to urbanization and dwindling groundwater, according to the agency.

This year, an anti-flooding program was implemented by city authorities, which included measures like installing and operating 615 sluices, building temporary dikes, setting up 28 pumping stations at heavily-flooded sites, and dredging more than 1,000 kilometers of drainage ditches and 57 canals.

But for many city dwellers flooding remains a nightmare scenario. According to the agency in charge of implementing the program, the construction of major drainage projects has blocked the current and deposited earth in the drainage system, worsening the flooding in these areas.

Whole neighborhoods now flood every time tides rise, leaving residents to bail out their own homes with buckets and mops.

The discharge of solid waste into canals and ditches and urban encroachment on waterways has also been blamed for the flooding.

Experts warned that the flooding is worsening because the city's marshlands in Districts 7 and Nha Be, the area that excess water historically flowed into, are being leveled up to build houses for massive projects.

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