HANOI • At least 54 people died as destructive floods battered northern and central Vietnam this week, the country's disaster prevention agency said yesterday.
Rescuers were desperately searching for 39 people still missing after heavy rain pounded several provinces this week, with forecasters warning of another major storm heading towards the country. The floods are the worst in years, state-run Vietnam Television quoted Agriculture Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong as saying.
Villages, roads and homes across several provinces remained submerged yesterday, as the authorities tried to clear roads and reach isolated residents in the mountainous north, which was hit by deadly landslides.
Entire families were killed in some areas as rivers tore a destructive path through villages and towns.
In Hoa Binh, 19 people from four neighbouring households were buried alive early on Thursday after a landslide struck around midnight on Wednesday but only nine bodies have been found, the disaster agency said in a report.
Mr Hoang Phuc Son said he lost two children and two grandchildren as floodwaters slammed into their house in Yen Bai province.
"We had no time to run. My children couldn't run because water was coming in from all sides... My children and their two kids were swept away," he said,choking back his tears.
The body of a Vietnam News Agency reporter was recovered yesterday after he was washed away by a swollen river in Yen Bai province while reporting on the floods this week.
Thousands of police officers and soldiers were deployed to help search efforts, reinforce dykes and hand out food.
About 317 homes have collapsed in floods and landslides this week, while more than 34,000 other houses have been submerged or damaged.
More than 22,000ha of rice crops have also been damaged and about 180,000 animals killed or washed away.
The country is bracing itself for more adverse weather, with forecasters predicting that tropical storm Khanun will intensify over the South China Sea and could hit Vietnam early next week.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE