Vietnam must get ready to cope with climate change, which was forecast to bring erratic and extreme weather this year, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said at a meeting to review storm and flood prevention and control in Hanoi on March 31.

Hai said more storms and floods were expected this year which required all ministries, agencies and localities to consolidate their respective storm and flood prevention and control committees to quickly implement the national strategy for natural disaster prevention and mitigation by 2020.

He urged ministries and agencies to conduct quality examinations of rescue equipment and make replacements if needed, and promote communication in all localities.

Relevant authorities were asked to examine their preparations for natural disaster prevention at all levels and co-operate with the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting to facilitate timely warnings.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade would be in charge of evaluating and repairing dykes and reservoirs to minimise flooding.

Hai also requested the Military Telecom Corporation to complete documentation on earthquakes and tsunamis for submission to the Government in June. The Ministry of Construction has been urged to inspect earthquake-proof designs of construction projects.

Director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Pham Minh Tang said six or more storms and low tropical pressures were forecast to strike during the rainy season and peak water levels were expected to be higher between July and October than they were during the same period last year.

Locality representatives suggested that the forecasting of strong storms and floods should be quicker and more accurate, upgrades should be ordered for dyke and storm shelter constructions, and rescue efforts should be improved.

Figures from the Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention and Control showed that unexpected weather had caused serious losses last year. Natural disasters killed 273 people; 96 are still listed as missing and 491 were injured. More than 6,000 houses collapsed and more than 300,000ha of crops were inundated. Total losses were estimated to reach more than 16 trillion VND (768 million USD)./.