September 28, 2005

Floods feared after typhoon kills five in Vietnam

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam issued flood warnings on
Wednesday after Typhoon Damrey killed five people and shattered
sections of the network of sea dykes protecting the country's
second most important rice growing area.

The area in Vietnam most likely to suffer floods was the
province of Ninh Binh, 90 km (55 miles) south of Hanoi, the
government's Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention said.

The lashing rains Damrey brought on Tuesday after killing
16 people on the Chinese island of Hainan were swelling rivers
very quickly, it said.

The rains also struck Laos, where the government said it
had no immediate reports of major damage.

"We've had heavy rain all night and we are monitoring the
flooding situation closely, but there is nothing major so far.
Just some roofing gone," Lao government spokesman Yong
Chanhthalansy said.

There were also flash floods in northern Thailand, but no
immediate reports of casualties from Damrey -- Khmer for
elephant -- which caused widespread economic damage and the
evacuations of hundreds of thousands of people as it

The China Daily newspaper put the cost on Hainan at 10
billion yuan and Vietnam said at least 60,000 hectares (148,000
acres) of rice were damaged.

Vietnam's dyke system, built to withstand strong gales and
protect rice fields in the north, buckled under the power of
winds which topped 130 kph (80 mph) and sea surges of up to 5
meters (16 feet).

Sections crumpled in four provinces, power supplies and
telecommunications were hit and thousands of homes swamped,
state media said.


But the typhoon did not hit the Central Highlands coffee
belt further to the south and had no impact on crude oil output
as Vietnam's offshore rigs are well to the south.

The government said in a statement televised nationwide on
Tuesday it was rushing emergency food and supplies to
devastated areas to which evacuees returned only to find homes
and rice fields under water.

Nguyen Thi Nguyet, general secretary of the Vietnam Food
Association, said the government was expected to take food
relief from national reserves and would have no impact on

"Rice from the region's warehouses can be used to meet the
food demand," she told Reuters. "Besides, the region is also
harvesting a crop with higher yields this year."

The northern region incorporating the Red River Delta is
Vietnam's second-largest rice growing area after the Mekong
Delta in the south.

It produces about 36 percent of Vietnam's rice, which is
used mainly for domestic consumption, and shrimp and fish farms
in the area also suffered damage.

But the disruption to production in flooded areas will
reduce supplies of vegetables and seafood to regional markets,
including Hanoi, home to 3 million people where prices of the
products have already started rising.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted a Health Ministry report as
saying two people died in Nam Dinh province and two in Thanh
Hoa province. One person drowned in Quang Ninh province, it

The Health Ministry called on local health workers to clean
up the environment to prevent the diseases which often follow
natural disasters.

(Additional reporting by Ed Cropley in BANGKOK)