Floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in central Vietnam have killed at least 34 people, left 11 others missing and displaced more than 80,000 from their homes, disaster officials said.
Television footage on Sunday showed inundated houses and streets in the town of Hoi An and the former imperial city of Hue, both classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, where hundreds of tourists have been evacuated over recent days.
At least 34 people have been killed over several days of flooding which were the most destructive since 1999, a regional official told the AFP news agency.
“Eleven other people are missing. More than 100,000 houses have been flooded and transport by road, air and rail has been severely affected across the region,” said Nguyen Quang Trung, an official in the coastal city of Danang, adding several central provinces had been hit.
“Rain continued to fall on Sunday morning in the coastal provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh – where at least 20 people were killed,” Trung said, adding damage is initially estimated at around $65 million.
The National Flood and Storm Control Agency said in a statement on Sunday that the loss of life ocurred in five central provinces, where the 11 people were also missing. The death toll was cumulative since the floods began on Friday.
It said the floods had affected 98,000 houses in central Vietnam. But disaster officials said that the flood waters have started to recede in some areas, allowing residents to return and begin digging out their homes.
The worst-hit province was Binh Dinh, where the floods killed 12 people, officials said.
In Quang Ngai province, where nine were killed and four people are missing, flood waters rose above a previous peak measured in 1999, submerging many houses, the official Thanh Nien newspaper reported on Sunday.
Flood waters rose quickly after 15 hydropower plants in the central region opened their sluice gates to release water in reservoir protection, the newspaper reported.
Roads have been closed due to floods and some national train services cancelled.
The central region, incorporating the Central Highlands coffee belt, often suffers from floods and storms between July and October.
Rain since Friday disrupted the coffee harvest and bean drying in central highland provinces, thus delaying the bean flow to sea ports. Vietnam is the world’s top robusta coffee bean producer, accounting for around 17 percent of the world’s output.
More rain was forecast in the coffee-growing region on Sunday, state forecasters said.