Vietnam counts cost of typhoon as another looms

Search on for bodies after series of landslides triggered by Molave

Left: A boy being comforted by a relative after losing his father in the landslides in Nam Tra My district in Vietnam's Quang Nam province yesterday. Below: Rescuers and residents searching yesterday for those missing after three landslides struck Na
Above: Rescuers and residents searching yesterday for those missing after three landslides struck Nam Tra My, killing 16 people and injuring dozens.PHOTO: REUTERS
Left: A boy being comforted by a relative after losing his father in the landslides in Nam Tra My district in Vietnam's Quang Nam province yesterday. Below: Rescuers and residents searching yesterday for those missing after three landslides struck Na
Above: A boy being comforted by a relative after losing his father in the landslides in Nam Tra My district in Vietnam's Quang Nam province yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI • Rescue teams in central Vietnam searched for bodies yesterday following a series of deadly landslides triggered by Typhoon Molave, as yet another powerful storm edged slowly towards a country battered by its most intense weather in years.

Helicopters, soldiers and search dogs have been deployed to look for dozens of people feared dead in at least seven mudslides in central Vietnamese provinces that have been deluged this month by the worst spell of flooding in two decades.

In Quang Nam province, a district called Nam Tra My was struck by three landslides, which killed 16 and injured dozens.

Fifteen people were still missing.

"All I can do is stand here and wait," said Mr Ho Van Tung, watching with his neighbours in silent despair as rescue workers clawed through the thick umber mud searching for bodies.

"I am waiting to see if they find any of the bodies," said Mr Tung, whose brother-in-law was still buried somewhere below.

"If they do, I will rush over there to see if it is a loved one."

Molave is among the strongest typhoons that have hit Vietnam in the past 20 years.

It has killed close to 40 people since landing in Vietnam two days ago, although many people were rescued on Thursday, including three fishermen found in the sea by a cargo vessel and 33 people pulled from a tiny village in Nam Tra My.

Central Vietnam has had a tough year, with its tourism industry crippled by the coronavirus pandemic long before the arrival of typhoons that have killed at least 160 people, left dozens missing, wiped out crops and forced hundreds of thousands into shelters.

Molave left at least 22 people dead in the Philippines, and damaged nearly 1.7 billion pesos (S$48 million) in farm output and more than 52,000 houses, according to the authorities.

Meanwhile, another typhoon, Goni, gathered strength as it moved towards the Philippines, packing winds as strong as 195kmh, said the country's weather agency Pagasa.

The eastern provinces of Aurora and Quezon may experience "very destructive" winds when Goni makes landfall tomorrow evening or Monday morning, the local weather bureau said yesterday.

The rice-producing central Luzon region is along Goni's path.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is forecast to enter Philippine territory as early as tomorrow, but is unlikely to bring severe weather to the country in the next three days, the local weather agency said.

Typhoon Goni, which tracks a path similar to Molave, is on course to reach central Vietnam later next week and would be the country's 10th typhoon this year.

"My house is covered in deep mud and debris, but I have no plan to clean it up as I heard more storms are coming," Ms Nguyen Thi Sinh, a resident of Vietnam's Quang Tri province, said by phone.

"No one had foreseen such severe flooding. Crops and livestock are all gone with the flood water. We have to encourage ourselves with the fact we are at least still alive," she added.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Vietnam counts cost of typhoon as another looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe