Stepping up communication work is one of the most important measures to reduce damages caused by floods, flash floods and landslides in mountainous areas, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has said.

Chairing an August 20 video conference on flood, flash flood and landslide prevention and control in 2014, the Deputy PM said that it can never be enough for mountainous localities, which are home to most ethnic minority people, to conduct educational campaigns to raise public awareness of disaster prevention.

Localities need to build maps of areas with high risk of flash floods and landslides and deploy response plans for residents such as evacuating people out of dangerous areas and building disaster observation and early warning stations, he said.

They should also pay attention to promoting scientific research in the early warning of natural disasters and keeping up with afforestation and forest protection, he added.

Hailing efforts made by ministries and localities in the work over the past time, Deputy PM Hai stressed that the most important goal of disaster prevention and control is to ensure the safety of human lives before, during and after the calamity.

Representatives from mountainous provinces pointed out shortcomings in the work, especially residents’ poor awareness, authorities’ lax examination and supervision, and difficulties in relocating people living in areas vulnerable to natural disasters.

They also emphasised the importance of communication work and the building of flood warning and observation systems.

According to Vu Van Tu, chief of the office of the National Steering Committee on Storm and Flood Prevention and Control, since 2000, mountainous provinces across Vietnam have been hit by 250 flash floods and landslides, which left 646 dead and missing, and injured about 350 others.

The disasters also damaged more than 109,700 houses, submerged over 75,000 ha of rice and crops and destroyed many traffic and irrigation works, causing a total estimated loss of 3.3 trillion VND (157 million USD).

Provinces that have been regularly hit by flash floods and landslides include Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Yen Bai in the north, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Binh Thuan in the central region.-VNA