~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

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Vietnam flood damage at $200 mln, more aid sought

HANOI - Central Vietnam's worst floods in a century have caused initial damage of more than $200 million and destroyed or damaged 630,000 homes, official media reported on Wednesday.
The Vietnam News Agency said 500 hospitals and medical clinics had also been destroyed, along with scores of schools across eight provinces, home to some seven million people.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien has appealed for more international aid to help put the poverty-stricken region back on its feet, the Vietnam News daily said. Officials said the top priority was to restore agricultural production following the week of flooding that killed at least 547 people and left dozens missing.

By Wednesday, the floodwaters had receded further but around 185,000 acres of paddy fields had been destroyed or damaged across the region. Thousands of cattle and large numbers of pigs had been killed and some 1,260 fishing boats destroyed. Doctors and medical students have converged on the region to treat people and try to prevent disease. Meteorologists said on Wednesday the weather would remain fairly clear over the next couple of days.

Economists have said it was too early to say what impact the floods would have on Vietnam's economic growth this year, which the government has forecast at 4.7-5.0 percent, from an estimated 5.8 percent in 1998. Hanoi would likely divert more budget funds to the region, economists have said. Relief workers have kept pumping aid into the area, but they have said the immediate danger of starvation has faded.

Vietnam Television said late on Tuesday that the military had stopped airlifting supplies to the region. It gave no reason for the decision, although relief workers have said plenty of aid has already reached distribution points. Relief workers have said Vietnam's rapid response to the floods had largely dealt with the immediate food problem. Essential services such as electricity were restored on Tuesday in the region and many roads have reopened.
Officials have also expressed concern about damage to the World Heritage sites of the former imperial citadel and various royal tombs in the central city of Hue.

Vietnam is one of the world's poorest countries, with its population of 79 million earning annual per capita income just above $300. Floods and typhoons regularly lash the nation.

Reuters - November 10, 1999.


Vietnam flood relief effort cuts starvation threat

HANOI - Exhausted relief workers kept pumping aid into central Vietnam on Tuesday, but said the danger of starvation had faded as the toll from the region's worst floods in a century climbed toward 550.

Relief workers said Vietnam's rapid response to the week of floods that engulfed eight provinces stretching for some 375 miles had largely dealt with the immediate food problem. Meteorologists said the weather would remain fairly clear over the next couple of days, although forecasters were closely monitoring Tropical Depression Frankie, which brought heavy rains to the central Philippines on Monday. Official media on Tuesday said 535 people had been killed during central Vietnam's floods. Scores were still missing. But essential services were back in action on Tuesday, with electricity restored in the entire region and some roads and rail lines reopened as water levels continued to fall.

John Geoghegan, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said plenty of aid was pouring into central Vietnam and that now it was important to become more systematic in distribution. He said emergency food supplies were reaching the most remote areas and that serious hunger was not a major worry.

``Without question this is one of the best responses (to a natural disaster) I've seen in any country. The Vietnamese moved quickly into operation,'' Geoghegan told Reuters. Relief workers said they were still worried about the threat of disease, but added that Vietnamese in the central region were used to flooding and would take care to boil drinking water. It was unclear how long the mop-up would take, or how high the damages bill would go from the floods. Officials have estimated property damage at around $51 million.

Radio Voice of Vietnam has said around one million homes were damaged, while 185,000 acres of paddy fields have been destroyed or damaged across the region. Some 130,000 tons of warehoused food, including rice and corn, has also been saturated and may rot. The region is Vietnam's poorest and does not make a major contribution to economic growth. Essential industry and agriculture are located mainly in the south.

Vietnam is one of the world's poorest countries, with its population of 79 million earning annual per capita income just above $300. Floods and typhoons regularly lash the nation.

Reuters - November 9, 1999.