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Vietnam braces as storm Saudel set to further flood devastation

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A family is rescued by Vietnamese officials through floodwaters in Ha Tinh province. AFP

HANOI (AFP) – over 100 people have died and 20 others are missing in central Vietnam following weeks of severe flooding and landslides, as the country braced for yet another storm this weekend.

About 178,000 homes have been submerged by floodwaters, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with rescuers mounting a desperate bid to get food and drinking water to those cut off.

Roads, infrastructure and crops in the central region have also been devastated by the floods, the charity added, warning that hundreds of thousands would need housing and income support in the coming weeks.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu of the Vietnam Red Cross Society said the floods are “some of the worst we have seen in decades”.

At least 111 people have been killed, the disaster management authority said, while nearly 200,000 have been evacuated.

Among those dead are 22 soldiers who were engulfed in a huge landslide on Sunday in Quang Tri province, and 13 members of a rescue team who had attempted to save workers from a hydropower plant.

A search team is still trying to find 15 of the missing plant workers, who were also caught up in a landslide.

Although floodwaters have begun to recede in some areas, images on state media showed villages still submerged across the region and a hospital badly flooded in Quang Binh, with water pooling around its beds.

More rain is forecast to hit the area over the weekend as Storm Saudel blows in from the South China Sea.

Vietnam is frequently lashed by harsh weather in the rainy season between June and November, and central coast provinces are the most affected areas.

More than 130 people were reported dead or missing in natural disasters around the country last year, the General Statistics Office said.

Cambodia has also suffered badly from storm-related flooding in recent weeks.

The death toll jumped to 34 on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said, with more than 400,000 people affected.

The northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey has experienced its worst flooding in 70 years, he added.

Meanwhile, Manila Times reported that storm signals remain up in parts of Luzon on Wednesday as the tropical storm moves over the West Philippine Sea and is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday morning or afternoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

La Union, the northern portion of Zambales and the western portion of Pangasinan are under still under Signal two.

Under Signal one are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, the rest of Pangasinan, Abra, the western portion of Kalinga, the western portion of Mountain Province, the western portion of Ifugao, the western portion of Nueva Vizcaya, the western portion of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and the rest of Zambales.

As of 7am on Wednesday, Pagasa said the centre of Saudel was estimated at 115 kilometres northwest of Dagupan City, Pangasinan or 120km west-northwest of Baguio City.

Moving at 30 kilometres per hour (kph), the tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, it said.

Another the tropical depression being closely monitored by the state-run weather agency was last spotted 1,900km east-northeast of Northern Luzon.

Pagasa said it has maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near the center and is creating gusts up to 70 kph.


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