Natural disasters cause economic losses of over 1.38 billion USD this year hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Natural disasters had claimed 15 lives and caused economic losses of more than 3.2 trillion VND (over 1.38 billion USD) this year to May 8, it was reported at a conference on May 19.

The conference was organised by the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VRCS) Central Committee to review its performance in natural disaster response in 2019 and launch tasks for 2020.

Vice President and General Secretary of the VRCS Central Committee Nguyen Hai Anh told the conference that since the start of this year the VRCS has provided its chapters nationwide with over 100 billion VND (4.34 million USD) for disaster and disease response, of which 3.08 billion VND has been spent to help 42,000 people to cope with natural disasters.

He added that information technology (IT) has been applied in disaster mitigation and response since 2019, initially in forecasting, and the application is to be expanded even further.

Vietnam has weathered more extreme, irregular, and record-breaking disasters in recent years, said Deputy Head of the Office of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control Nguyen Truong Son.

He explained that for the first time in history, whirlwinds, thunderstorms, and hail storms occurred on the first day of the lunar year in late January and in 31 localities afterwards, even in places that had never experienced such incidents in the past.

Drought and saline intrusion, meanwhile, came a month earlier than the annual average and hit record levels in the Mekong Delta.

The official stressed that losses can be mitigated through measures to proactively respond to natural disasters based on worst scenarios.

From now to the end of the year, the VRCS will focus on developing tools for natural disaster response, and implement support for communities in the four fields of clean water, safe housing, livelihoods and health care.  

At the conference the VRCS signed cooperation agreements with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in coping with natural disasters and diseases./.