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Rains wreak havoc across Southeast Asia
More than 100 dead and tens of thousands displaced by monsoon rains causing widespread flooding.
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2011 21:15
More than a 100 people have died in the worst flooding along the Mekong River in over a decade [Reuters]

More than 100 people have died and tens of thousands of others have been displaced as monsoon rains continue to wreak havoc across Southeast Asia.

In Cambodia and southern Vietnam, more than a 100 people have died this week in the worst flooding along the Mekong River in 11 years. Heavy rain swamped homes, washed away bridges and forced thousands of people to evacuate.

Worse could be in store if Typhoon Nesat, which killed at least 39 people in China this week and is expected to pound northern Vietnam on Friday, dumps rain deep enough inland to further swell the Mekong.

Floods are affecting hundreds of thousands of people throughout India, the Philippines, and now Thailand. One-third of Thailand was deluged and Chiang Mai, one of the largest cities was being prepared for evacuation.

China issued its first red alert weather warning of the year as Typhoon Nesat moved closer. In Guangdong province, waves damaged a seawall, causing serious disruption to transport and about 300,000 people fled from their homes there and in Hainan province.

Earlier this week, the storm tore through the Philippines, killing dozens of people.

Rice prices

Flooding across the fertile Mekong Delta helped drive rice prices to a three-year high in Vietnam this week, traders said, which will add to inflation problems. The delta produces more than half of Vietnam's rice and 90 per cent of its exportable grain.

In Cambodia, 97 people have died in weeks of flooding.

"Now, more than 200,000 hectares of our rice paddies are under water but we don't yet know the full extent of the damage," said Keo Vy, deputy information director at the National Disaster Management Committee.

Cambodia is a rice exporter, but Vietnam is the world's second-biggest exporter behind Thailand.


Al Jazeera's Wayne Haye reports from the rain-hit town of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand

In 2000, the worst flooding in decades killed more than 480 people across the Delta region. The following year, more than 300 people died when the Mekong, which flows 4,350km from the glaciers of Tibet to the rice-rich Delta of southern Vietnam, overflowed its banks.

Some 150,000 families had been affected by the flooding in Cambodia this year and another 15,000 evacuated to higher ground, said Men Neary Sopheak, deputy secretary general of Cambodia's Red Cross.

Down river in Vietnam, at least nine people died since seasonal floods arrived in the Delta in August, government and provincial disaster reports said.

Floods had inundated nearly 3,800 houses and nearly 700 people were evacuated in An Giang province and the city of Can Tho.

Dykes and bridges were washed away in places and roads submerged by the muddy deluge. Production of shrimp and fish had been affected in parts of the Delta.

Flooding is forecast to peak in Vietnam in early October.

The waters had already peaked in Cambodia and were receding there slowly, the Vietnamese government said on Friday. 

Water had reached 4.76m early on Friday at Vietnam's Tan Chau gauging station, above Alarm Level Three, the most dangerous flood condition at which inundation is widespread and dykes are in jeopardy.

It was forecast to peak at 4.9m by Sunday, the government said. Water five metres deep can submerge one-storey houses, which are common in the Delta in southern Vietnam.

Evacuations urged

Hoang Trung Hai, the Vietnamese deputy prime minister, urged the provincial authorities to evacuate people from dangerous areas, speed up the rice harvest and close more schools to prevent deaths. 

Around 5,000 hectares of the Delta's third rice crop have been inundated as floods broke through dyke sections in the provinces of Dong Thap and An Giang, and another 90,000 hectares were under threat.

The region has planted nearly 600,000 hectares for the current crop, which is mainly for domestic consumption, and only 5 per cent has been harvested, the agriculture ministry said.

In Thailand, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation department said 180 people had died in flooding since mid-July caused by tropical storms and seasonal monsoons. 

Two million people in 23 provinces have been affected, with 2.4 million acres of farmland under water. Officials say rice has been harvested early in some areas, which may cut yields. 

Flooding was reported in the night bazaar in the northern town of Chiang Mai, popular with tourists, and flash floods and landslides were reported in areas around town due to the high level of the Ping river, officials said.

Source:
Agencies
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