Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)
 
 Hanoi (VNA) – Many mountainous localities suffered heavy losses from natural disasters in 2006 due to their failure to take account of forecast, prevention, monitoring, risk assessment and communication work, according to an official of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control. 

Van Phu Chinh, head of the committee’s standing office, made the assessment at a meeting in Hanoi on June 1 that looked into natural disaster prevention and control in 18 mountainous provinces from the northern region to the central province of Ha Tinh.

He noted in 2016, the mountainous areas were affected by 24 strong cold spells, four storms and follow-up floods, along with whirlwinds and hailstorms. 

Up to 109 people were killed and went missing in these disasters while about 940 houses collapsed or washed away and 44,220 others were inundated, more than 134,000ha of rice and other crops were devastated. Natural calamities also killed 37,180 livestock and 127,530 poultry and damaged 56km of canals and ditches.

Material damage exceeded 5.8 trillion VND (255.4 million USD), Chinh said.

He blamed authorities at all levels, especially grass-roots level, for the problem, adding that their supervision activities are still lax. While there remain many obstacles in the resettlement of residents in vulnerable areas, the planning of residential areas has yet to take into account disaster risks. Communication activities to raise public awareness of flash floods in many mountainous provinces haven’t been effective.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang, who is a deputy head of the central steering committee, said human and property damage caused by natural disasters in mountainous provinces remains a challenge for many years and haven’t been settled thoroughly as expected.

Meanwhile, Director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Hoang Duc Cuong said the forecasting of natural disasters in mountainous areas, especially in the north, is flawed and hasn’t completely satisfied the growing demand in disaster prevention and control.

To minimise human and property losses, the localities should be well-prepared in terms of leadership, forces, means and materials, and logistics. They also have to appropriately exploit natural resources to ensure sustainable socio-economic development, he added. 

To respond to this year’s rainy season, the central steering committee ordered the provinces to review all residential areas and structures to locate flood- and landslide-prone areas while adamantly relocating households at risk. 

It said they must devise flood response plans and pay special attention to communication methods to ensure all residents will be updated with disaster information. Rescue staff and vehicles also need to be geared up in case of emergencies. -VNA