Floods in Vietnam decimate
16 November 1999
Vietnam has been suffering the effects of the worst rainstorm to hit the country in forty years. Storm Number 9, better known as Eve, began with torrential rainstorms on October 18, and continued without respite, until November 4. On November 12, here was been an international appeal for assistance to overcome drastic food shortages and repair and replace housing and infrastructures in the devastated central provinces. The recurring floods in recent years have also raised the profile of emergency procedures in similar conditions within the administrations. Along with mobilising forces for rescue efforts and food drops, authorities started chlorine distribution immediately to allow for a clean water supply. Accurate figures of damage and loss of life due to Storm Eve are impossible because of interrupted communication lines. However it is known that more than 8,346 houses have collapsed and another 604,204 others have been affected. 15,000 people have been evacuated. Provisional statistics provided by the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CCFSC) on November 7 estimated that 535 people have died as a result of the fortnight's flooding - 324 of whom lived in the province of Thua Thien Hue. The constant rainfall for two weeks brought massive subsequent flooding as major rivers in the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen all overflowed and brought extensive flooding to the surrounding valleys, Highly destructive Level III flood conditions prevailed along a 600km long stretch of terrain. Uncontrollable flood waters combined with landslides to inflict severe damage on roads, dykes and infrastructure. At the height of the floods, the streets of Hue, in the worst affected province of Thua Thien Hue, ran with up to three metres of water. Telecommunications there and elsewhere in the eight central provinces ceased to function. Meteorologists have predicted clear weather over the next two days. Meanwhile, vestiges of thick mud make burials difficult and hamper relief workers' attempts to dispose of rubbish and animal carcasses. At least 63,726 ha of paddy fields have been damaged by the deluge, and 11,813 ha are completely lost. Another 30,985 ha of other crops have been damaged. Figures for livestock losses reach as high as 693,154. According to the CCFSC, 32,830 tons of food have gone to waste and 130,000 tons, including rice and corn, lie rotting in warehouses. Huge swathes of farmland have been lost and widespread food shortages must be addressed. The main rice fields and the country's principal coffee-producing region lie to the north of the disaster area and have been spared from devastation. Parts of National Highway One, which links Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, and long tracks of the north-south railway are still impassable. Ruined roads have led to the isolation of three inland districts of Thua Thien Hue. Eleven villages in two districts have effectively become an island due to erosion. 267km of road and 5,416m of dykes, used for conducting water resources and for transportation, have suffered heavy damages.