Landslides, flash floods batter central region

People in central provinces are being battered by constant landslides and flash floods triggered by torrential rains.
People in central provinces are being battered by constant landslides and flash floods triggered by torrential rains.

The situation was typical for central and central highlands regions during the rainy season, Vo Dinh Dung, head of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam's Road Management Centre 5 in central Da Nang city, told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper.

In Phu Yen province, the fourth victim of a flash flood late last week is still missing, despite efforts by local rescue teams in Son Thanh Tay commune.

Deputy chairman of the communal People's Committee Tran Duc Hoa said four men aged 30-34 had set up camp at a shed near a local stream and gone into the forest to gather wild orchids.

Local soldiers and rescuers discovered the bodies of three of the men about 300 metres from the shed in the November 23 morning after a six-hour search, he continued.

According to Hoa, the committee would send more people to search for the last victim.

Phan Cong Thang, chairman of the communal People's Council, believed this flash flood was the largest the commune had ever seen because it swept away many tall trees as well as rocks weighing tens of tonnes.

In Quang Ngai province, about 20,000 cubic metres of mud and rock filled the first floor of the Animal Health Centre, Agriculture Promotion Centre and Plant Protection Centre in Son Tay district in the November 23 afternoon, said Le Van Tung, chairman of the district People's Committee.

Up to 100 local soldiers were sent to help ease the consequences, he said, adding that fortunately no human losses were reported.

The district's committee plans to build stone embankments behind the buildings to prevent landslides after the ongoing rainy season.

Tung said that the risks of landslides in mountainous areas had become more and more unpredictable and severe, blaming this change on the destruction of forests and the cutting of mountains.

However, solving the problem was out of the hands of local authorities, he said. The only way to ensure safety was to predict when floods would occur and help local people evacuate in small groups.

The rainy season occurs between October and December in the central region and between June and December in the Central Highlands.

According to Dung from the road management centre, damage were estimated to reach trillions of dong each year in the transport sector alone, yet localities could not afford the necessary repairs.

Build-up of flood silt blocks Hoi An estuary

Thousands of boats in the central province of Quang Nam could not enter or leave Cua Dai estuary in Hoi An in recent days because of a buildup of silt in the waterway.

Nearly 3,000 people on nearby Cham island, located 15km from the Cua Dai estuary, had difficulty travelling to the mainland.

The 1km–wide Cua Dai estuary has a depth of 1.2 metres at low tide and 1.8 metres at high tide, according to the Hoi An Flood and Storm Prevention and Control Steering Committee.

With this water depth, boats with an engine of more than 30 horsepower cannot travel on the estuary, said the steering committee.

The Cua Dai Border Inspection Station said that on November 18-19, more than 80 fishing boats with 700 fishermen were permitted to go offshore, but the boats were unable to travel on the estuary and had to cancel their trips.

Fisherman Le Van Tuc of Cua Dai ward said the estuary was shallow and boats could not go through it.

After the year's 11th major storm, Nari, hit the central region last month, the estuary became heavily silted. This was mainly caused by erosion of a large quantity of sand at a site nearby.

Officials of the provincial Department of Transport on November 21 visited the estuary to survey the situation. Truong Van Can, the department director, said the estuary needed urgent dredging. At first, the department will use marker buoys to guide travel for boats, he said.

Inspection stations in Hoi An will work around the clock to help local residents travel on the estuary. "The department will offer advice to the provincial People's Committee so they can find capital to dredge the estuary in the fastest and safest way," Can said.-VNA

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