Floods hit a region already in the grips of a health emergency due to the new coronavirus pandemic. In Vietnam, the death toll is 90 and at least 34 people are missing. In Laos 100 villages flooded, submerged, at least 10 thousand hectares of cultivated land. In Cambodia 25 victims and 40 thousand displaced. Dams and barriers increase the scale of the disaster.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Floods, landslides and other natural disasters triggered by the heavy downpours that hit Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in recent days have caused dozens of deaths, destroyed rice paddies and stocks, left thousands of people without houses.
This latest emergency worsens the pre-existing crisis triggered by the new coronavirus pandemic, which has spread with serious repercussions on the economy and health of the whole area.
In Vietnam, the official toll, which is still provisional, speaks of 90 dead and at least 34 people missing. Thousands of people hastily fled the flooded areas, seeking shelter in a safer place. According to local civil protection estimates (Vietnam’s Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster and Control), the provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hu are the most affected, with 41 dead, 18 missing and 27 dead and 15 missing each.
In Thua Thien Hue, the authorities evacuated some 40,000 homes at risk and another 121,700 submerged by water. The situation is aggravated by the authorities’ decision - without warning the population downstream - to open the dam’s flood gates, to release pressure on the water that had reached alarming levels.
A resident of Quang Tri's Cam Lo district says that “[The authorities] wrote on Facebook that they were about to open the dam gates and drain the water, but as our area was already isolated we did not receive the news and flood hit us at midnight”.
According to forecasts, even more rain should fall in the central areas of the country in the coming days, brought by a tropical storm that is forming in the South China Sea. Therefore, the danger of new floods and landslides remains high, which could cause further damage to infrastructures and communication routes.
In neighboring Laos, bad weather hit with particular intensity in the central province of Savannakhet, with the authorities unable to reach the most affected areas. Over 100 villages in eight districts flooded, many houses and 10,000 hectares of cultivated land still submerged. Again, a dam upstream of the river increased the flood flow and caused further devastation in the agricultural and forested area of Phin.
Finally, in Cambodia, floods killed 25 people and caused the displacement of 40 thousand people housed in temporary shelters. 200,000 hectares of cultivated land and 80,000 farms flooded, more than 500 schools and 79 textile factories also damaged. According to the authorities, roads, hospitals and dams were also heavily damaged. "I don't know what to do," a villager in the northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey tells Radio Free Asia (RFA). "We don’t have enough rice to eat."