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
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.