Geneva (AFP) Oct 18, 2010
The international Red Cross on Monday appealed for more than one million dollars in aid for victims of heavy flooding in Vietnam.
"With large parts of central Vietnam still battling the after-effects of flooding, which has killed dozens of people and affected half a million residents, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal for 1,034,754 Swiss francs (1.08 million dollars, 772,216 euros) to assist survivors," it said in a statement.
Federation spokesman Paul Conneally told AFP the numbers affected included those who were displaced or who had suffered damage to homes, land or agricultural property.
Vietnamese authorities said on Monday that the death toll from floods caused by heavy rain in central Vietnam rose to 32, with an unknown number missing after a bus became submerged, and 150,000 homes were under water.
The Red Cross said fresh flooding since last week had added to damage from torrential rains earlier in the month, when rivers burst their banks and dams overflowed.
earlier related report
Officials said most of the deaths were in the provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.
More than 150,000 homes were under water after flooding in the two provinces as well as adjacent Quang Binh, officials said.
Local media showed pictures of residents poking heads or hands through the tile roofs of houses surrounded by water.
Some areas looked like inland seas, which rescuers navigated in boats, while television pictures showed transport trucks ploughing through flooded roads.
Police officers from Nghi Xuan district in Ha Tinh said the bus passengers disappeared after floodwaters on the main north-south highway submerged the vehicle.
"We guess there were about 30 people on the bus, and we have rescued 17," said one policeman, who declined to be named.
Another officer reached later was more vague, saying it was unclear how many people were on board and how many had still not been found.
"We have mobilised a big number of our force to join the search, using boats and anything we have," said the second officer.
One passenger, Luong Van Thanh, was quoted by the VnExpress news website as saying the travellers were asleep when they felt the bus topple into the water.
"Some of the passengers broke the window and crawled out. I am lucky to be alive because I can swim," Thanh said.
He added that the bus driver was rescued but "fainted many times" and would not talk to anybody after the accident, which happened where national Highway 1A passes between a river and rice fields.
The state Vietnam News reported water one-metre (3.3 feet) deep on the highway.
The mid-sized bus had a capacity of about 36 and was making a long journey between the Central Highlands region and the northern coastal province of Nam Dinh, police said.
One of the affected provinces, Quang Binh, was particularly struggling as it was already affected by flooding earlier this month that left at least 64 people dead in the centre of the country.
"Rain has eased Monday but water is receding slowly. We still have to evacuate people from high-risk areas," said Dinh Chi Lam, an official at the Nghe An provincial flood and storm control department.
State media reported that traffic between the north and south of the country was briefly interrupted as buses and trains could not move on the key national road and rail routes.
Nguyen Thi Thuy, a disaster official from Ha Tinh, said that although thousands of soldiers and others had been mobilised to assist flood victims, rescuers lacked equipment.
Vietnam regularly suffers from tropical storms and flooding at this time of year.
"The country is finding greater intensity of floods, greater intensity of droughts," the World Bank's vice-president for sustainable development, Inger Andersen, told AFP during an interview Monday in Vietnam.
Andersen, who is on an Asian tour, said climate change was the biggest sustainable development challenge facing Vietnam.
"Managing floods and droughts... becomes absolutely key to mitigating against climatic shocks and climatic events," she said.
Forecasters said Super Typhoon Megi, which killed at least one person when it struck the northern Philippines on Monday, was also likely to affect Vietnam.
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