Vietnam flood toll rises to 55
Mon, Nov 03, 2008

HANOI - Floods have killed 55 people in northern and central Vietnam including 18 in the capital Hanoi, which has been hit by the worst flooding in almost 25 years, emergency services said Monday.

Victims have drowned, been struck by falling trees and collapsing buildings, and several were electrocuted by live power lines, said the National Flood and Storm Prevention Committee.

Rains have lashed central Vietnam for more than a week and left many Hanoi neighbourhoods inundated in muddy waters since Friday, with thousands of residents trapped inside waterlogged homes, many without electricity.

Hanoi families with young children were using canoes and barges made from oil drums, packaging, bathtubs and banana trees to evacuate their television sets, furniture and other valued possessions.

The severe weather has brought widespread traffic chaos, damaged tens of thousands of homes, destroyed rice fields and threatened dyke systems along the Red River and other waterways.

A dyke broke in Ninh Binh province, a scenic limestone karst region south of Hanoi, on Sunday, killing one of 600 troops deployed for disaster relief there, and inundating 10,000 homes near the Hoang Long river, officials said.

"We have been hit by historic floods this year, the worst in decades," provincial People's Committee official Tran Van Ha told AFP.

"Farmers' lives have been turned upside down.... The roads here have turned into rivers.

"The situation has become especially difficult for old people and children, and we fear we will face a serious epidemic when the flood waters recede."

Among the latest fatalities were eight deaths in Nghe An province, where five children and an old man were swept away by floods and two men were electrocuted when they tried to repair the electric system in their flooded home.


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