UNESCO heritage threatened by Hoi An's rapid erosion

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Coastal erosion swallowed Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An Ancient Town, where millions of tourists used to visit every year. Photo: Hoang Son Coastal erosion swallowed Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An Ancient Town, where millions of tourists used to visit every year. Photo: Hoang Son

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Duong Thi Huong’s restaurant on Cua Dai Beach in the central town of Hoi An hasn't fed a single customer since abnormally fierce waves swallowed the beach beyond its back door.
“It was unbelievable that the sea took back the beach in just a month. It is the most beautiful beach in Hoi An,” she was quoted by Tien Phong newspaper as saying.
“There were days when I woke up to find that several meters of sand had disappeared overnight.”
Serious erosion wreaked havoc on Hoi An, a UNESCO heritage site, this summer.
Le Cong Sy, a local official in the town's Cua Dai Ward said the sea has moved 150 meters inland in the past eight years.
“But the pace of erosion spiked, abnormally, when it reached a further 30 meters inland in a single month, claiming Cua Dai Beach,” he said.
Near the beach, two recently-completed resort projects failed to open due to erosion.
A house near Fuison Alya resort recently collapsed in the waves.
A total of six resorts on Cua Dai Beach are at risk of falling into the advancing sea.
“We have never seen such terrible erosion,” Sy said.
According to Nguyen Van Dung, deputy chairman of Hoi An Town People’s Committee, erosion has become “extremely serious” in Hoi An. 
“The province and town leaders are rushing to create an effective solution to the problem,” he said.
Nguyen Phu, director of Quang Nam's provincial construction department, said they've invited experts to study the alarming shift in the erosion.
“They concluded that there was a natural change in sea currents which caused the erosion,” he said.
Meanwhile, local authorities have installed poles in several spots and are building a new dike system.
Dung said that if erosion reaches Provincial Road 603, it represents a clear threat to the future of the ancient town.
In 2012, Quang Nam Province disbursed VND54 billion (US$2.5 million) to build 1.5 km dike on Cua Dai. However, a section near the Victoria and Fuison resorts was badly damaged by the recent surge.
Dung said that the construction was only temporary because they could not build a strong dike system with so little money.
In 2008, Hoi An proposed a VND800-billion dike system, but it never came to fruition, he said.
“Without sufficient investment in an effective flood mitigation plan, erosion will reach the river estuary and threaten the Hoi An heritage,” he said.

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