MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ALEXANDER DOWNER
AA 70 12 November 1999
On behalf of the Australian people, the Australian Government wishes to convey its deepest sympathy to the Vietnamese Government over the loss of life and property caused by the worst floods to hit Vietnam in 40 years. The Australian Government will provide emergency assistance for the flood victims.
Australia will provide $450,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for boxes of household items to 20,000 affected families. Each box will contain two blankets, a mosquito net, basic kitchen utensils, soap and health information. Australia will also provide a further $450,000 to help rebuild infrastructure in the region once the emergency phase of the flooding has passed. Australia will provide this support through Australian non-government aid agencies currently operating in the region.
Central Vietnam has borne the brunt of the flooding that began with torrential rainstorms on 18 October and continued without respite until 4 November. Several major rivers in the central provinces overflowed into surrounding valleys and highly destructive flood conditions prevailed along a 600 kilometre stretch of terrain.
Over 500 deaths have been reported, but this figure is expected to rise as waters recede. More than half a million houses are still submerged. Infrastructure has been badly damaged with numerous schools, hospitals, bridges, roads and railways affected. The economic impact on Vietnam is expected to be considerable.
The IFRC is currently coordinating appeal efforts in Vietnam. Australia has already funded the purchase of a number of aluminium boats valued at around $100,000, which have been essential in getting supplies to isolated communities.
Media contacts: Innes Willox (Ministerial)
02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890
Gai Brodtmann (AusAID) (02) 6206 4960/ 0412 804 489