Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Flood death toll in Cambodia, Vietnam nears 40 as tropical storm Nangka heads for Viet coast

HANOI/PHNOM PENH (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – Nearly 40 people have died in Vietnam and Cambodia and scores more were missing, including rescuers, due to prolonged heavy rain and flash flooding as tropical storm Nangka edged towards the Vietnamese coast on Tuesday (Oct 13).

Heavy rain since early October have caused deadly floods and landslides in several provinces in central Vietnam and displaced thousands of people in western Cambodia, officials and state media said.

The floods are expected to worsen over the coming days, with tropical storm Nangka forecast to dump more rain as it makes landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday.

Nangka, packing wind speeds of up to 100kmh will trigger heavy rain of up to 400mm in parts of northern and central Vietnam from Wednesday through Friday, its weather agency said.

Ongoing flooding has killed at least 28 people in Vietnam, and 11 in Cambodia, where almost 25,000 houses and 84,000ha of crops have been damaged, according to local media.

Vietnamese disaster management authorities said over 130,000 houses have been impacted.

Seventeen construction workers were missing following a landslide at the site of a hydropower dam project in the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien Hue, state media reported.

An additional 13 people sent to rescue the workers are also missing, the state-run Nhan Dan newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has instructed the defence ministry to send more rescue troops to the site of the landslide, according to a government statement.

As of Tuesday morning, they were unable to reach the site, the statement added, because of high water levels, heavy rain and further landslides.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Macau have kept their storm signal at No. 8, the third-highest on the scale, with disaster prevention measures put in place, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The warning means that winds of mean speeds of 63kmh or more are expected.

The authorities in Hong Kong have also shuttered businesses and closed after the typhoon signal was issued.

Most businesses close and public transport becomes limited when No. 8 signal or above is in place.

Under Hong Kong stock exchange rules, trading is abandoned for the day if the signal isn’t lowered to 3 or below before noon.

A typhoon in August last disrupted trading in the city’s US$4.9 trillion (S$6.64 trillion) stock market, though it reopened that day at 1.30pm.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Shenzhen, neighbouring Hong Kong, this week. He is scheduled to deliver an address Wednesday and meet the leaders of Hong Kong and Macau, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday.

At noon, Nangka was centred about 490km south-south-west of Hong Kong and is forecast to move west or west-northwest at about 22kph toward the vicinity of Hainan Island and intensify gradually, the Observatory said on its website.

No one had sought medical treatment at public hospitals as of mid morning and authorities received six reports of fallen trees.

Not since the 1960s has Hong Kong’s observatory issued a No. 8 alert for a storm passing so far away, local broadcaster RTHK reported, citing senior scientific officer Woo Wang Chun. He still called it a “prudent” move because Hong Kong is under the combined influence from Nangka and a north-east monsoon, a situation that causes stronger winds, according to the report.

The No. 8 wind signal has previously been hoisted 14 times in the month of October, RTHK cited Mr Woo as saying.

In 2018, the city raised the maximum No. 10 signal when Typhoon Mangkhut left roads blocked, buildings damaged and low-lying areas flooded.

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