Appeal launched for Vietnam short victims

HANOI, Reuters

Tropical storm Wukong killed two people, injured 69, and left thousands homeless in central Vietnam on Sunday and the rising Mekong River threatens to worsen floods in the country’s southern delta, relief officials said on Monday.

The International Red Cross in Vietnam said it planned to launch an international appeal on Monday for funds to help people who had lost their housing and in anticipation of more people having to evacuate homes in the Mekong Delta.

Wukong hit the north central provinces of Quang Binh and Ha Tinh on Sunday afternoon. It forced the closure of Highway One, Vietnam’s main north-south artery, for several hours, the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

John Geoghegan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Vietnam, said the storm flattened at least 2,800 homes. He said each house in this part of Vietnam would contain three to four people, but precise figures of the number homeless were not available.

He said local authorities had appealed for 1,000 replacement houses, 500 tons of rice and 500 relief kits. He said the Red Cross has distributed plastic sheeting and mosquito nets to 2,000 families evacuated from their homes.

Geoghegan said the Red Cross planned to launch an appeal for funds to help the relief effort, but it was still not clear yet how much money would be needed.

VNA said around 40,000 hectares (98,800 acres) of rice were inundated by the storm, of which 11,000 hectares (27,170 acres) would be ruined.

The storm weakened late on Sunday to a tropical low on the border with Laos, weather forecasters said.

More than 28,500 people have already been forced to evacuate homes in the Mekong Delta due to flooding in provinces bordering Cambodia caused by rising water levels on the Mekong River.

The government warned last week that flood waters in the Delta, Vietnam’s rice bowl, could reach their highest levels since disastrous floods 22 years ago in coming days.