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Vietnam PM orders alert as flood toll hits 82

A woman walks behind an improvised raft made of a bathtub carrying her goods on a flooded street in Hanoi on November 3, 2008. Vietnam's premier ordered authorities to step up emergency measures after floods that had left 82 people dead in Hanoi and regions of the north and centre, with more rain forecast this week. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) Nov 5, 2008
Vietnam's premier ordered authorities to step up emergency measures after floods that by Wednesday had left 82 people dead in Hanoi and regions of the north and centre, with more rain forecast this week.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung put local emergency services on alert to strengthen water-soaked dyke systems near the capital city and across the Red River delta, in a statement published on the main government website.

"Local authorities and forces must think of the worst scenario, preparing specific plans, be ready to evacuate people," Dung was quoted as saying.

Unseasonally heavy rains have swept across north-central Vietnam for weeks and hit Hanoi last Friday, leaving many neighbourhoods under brown water and thousands of households without electricity and low on supplies.

More than 700 schools in the capital remain closed Wednesday.

Late Tuesday the government was forced to deny rumours that a dam or dyke upstream from Hanoi had burst its banks, after receiving hundreds of telephone calls from panicked residents who had rushed to buy up water and food.

According to figures compiled by AFP, the death toll has reached 82 across 12 cities and provinces after rescue workers recovered eight more bodies.

Across the disaster region, more than 120,000 buildings have been flooded, 250,000 hectares (over 600,000 acres) of rice and other crops have been lost, and 170 kilometres (105 miles) of rural roads damaged, officials said.

Vietnam, a country of 86 million, is lashed by typhoons and tropical storms every year, mostly along the central coast.

Last year, seven major storms from the South China Sea killed more than 435 people in floods and landslides, displacing thousands and leaving vast central areas inundated for months.

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Landslides, worst floods in a century kill 51 in China
Beijing (AFP) Nov 5, 2008
Parts of southwestern China have been hit by their worst floods in more than a century as well as landslides that have cost 51 lives and left 43 missing, local officials and state media said Wednesday.

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