Viet Nam

Floods kill at least 49 in Vietnam

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Hanoi_(dpa) _ Heavy rains and floods in Vietnam have killed at least 49 people and left five missing since Friday, disaster centres reported Monday.

In Hanoi, state media said at least 18 people were killed in the heaviest floods to hit the capital since 1984. Among the dead were three children on their way to school who fell into sewers through drains that lacked protective covers.

Widespread power outages also struck the capital. All schools were closed Monday.

The central province of Ha Tinh reported 17 deaths with the rest of the deaths spread among other provinces in northern and central Vietnam.

Heavy rains continued to fall in Vietnam's northern provinces Monday morning.

About 500 to 800 millimetres of rain fell on Hanoi from Friday to Monday morning. Many residents abandoned their cars and motorcycles in the streets.

Disaster centres warned residents living along the Red, Nhue, Duong and Cau rivers in Hanoi that they were in danger as water levels were predicted to rise through the day Monday.

Around the country, more than 55,000 houses have been damaged, and 183,000 hectares of crops and 9,600 hectares of aquaculture ponds in northern and central Vietnam have been submerged.

In Hanoi alone, floods inundated 13,000 houses, destroyed more than 50,000 hectares of crops and threatened 9,000 hectares of aquaculture farms.

The city's Steering Board for Storms and Floods Control estimated total damage at 3 trillion dong (176 million dollars).

The Hanoi Water Drainage Company said its sole pumping station's maximum capacity of 45 cubic metres per second was insufficient to bring down water levels in the city's rivers and lakes.

Shoppers reported large increases in vegetable and food prices as supplies were disrupted by the flooding.

Local television reported Sunday that more than 90 per cent of the capital area's vegetable acreage was under up to 1 metre of water.

"There are not many vegetables in the market for me to choose today," Nguyen Thi Hanh, a resident of Hanoi's Ba Dinh district, said Monday. "Today, prices have gone up three times higher than normal, but I have no choice."

Vietnamese meteorological services reported the rain was dying down Monday, but many streets in the capital remained under water.

The weather centre predicted it would take four to five days for water levels to fully recede.

In the first 10 months of this year, natural disasters killed at least 343 people in Vietnam and caused estimated losses of 340 million dollars.

Last year, the country was hit by seven major tropical storms or typhoons, which triggered floods and landslides that left 435 people dead or missing. dpa mas jh ls

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