Deputy PM urges readiness for disaster response

This year’s natural disasters in Vietnam have caused much severer consequences than the first seven months of 2016.
Hua Nam Village in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La has been hit hard by flooding. Nine people have died, six are missing, six injured and nearly 300 houses destroyed by flash floods. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Cuong
Hua Nam Village in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La has been hit hard by flooding. Nine people have died, six are missing, six injured and nearly 300 houses destroyed by flash floods. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Cuong
Some 1,768 natural disasters hit the country by July 30, down 203 compared to the same period of last year. However, death toll and the number of people missing amounted to 511 and 145 respectively, up 42 and 45, respectively since the same period last year.
Chairing a conference on evaluating natural disaster response in the capital city yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung pointed out some shortcomings in the natural disaster rescue process nationwide.
“Reviews of landslide-prone locations and resident evacuations were not conducted in an urgent manner,” he said. “Some localities were passive during emergencies.”
Some areas did not take natural disaster forecasts and warnings seriously and were not fully prepared for evacuations during storms and floods, he added.
The Deputy PM asked local authorities and residents to fully grasp the severity of the current climate situation to stay ready for response.
Natural disasters will continue to ravage the country this year and the following years as a result of climate change, creating negative effects on agriculture and industrial production and prompting unexpected accidents in mainland and on the sea, he said.
He urged the National Committee on Incident, Disaster Response and Search and Rescue to instruct ministries, agencies and localities to continue revising and supplementing solutions to flash floods, landslides, tsunamis and other disasters.
At the same time, they should raise public awareness of disaster response and search and rescue, increasing supervision over the effort, he added.
Search and rescue forces should enhance international cooperation – bilaterally and multilaterally – to share meteorological and hydrological data, while improving forecasting capacity and learning from previous disaster prevention and victim rescue experiences, he said.
Flood aftermath
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday ordered authorities of northern mountainous provinces and agencies and ministries to augment efforts to respond to torrential rains and floods wreaking havoc in the region over the last few days. 
Heavy rains have been reported across mountainous and midland provinces in northern Vietnam. Flash floods and landslides in some areas caused heavy human and property losses, especially in Muong La District of Sơn La Province and Mu Cang Chai District of Yen Bai Province. 
According to the Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control, as of Thursday, the natural disasters have left nine people dead, 24 missing and 12 injured. Nearly 200 houses were swept away or collapsed while about 180 others suffered heavy damages.
Meanwhile, more than 13,640 cubic meters of earth and rocks eroded on national highways in northern provinces. Floods also washed away 3km of provincial road No 109, isolating Nam Chien Commune and the Nam Chien hydropower plant in Son La Province. Some 144 irrigation works in Yen Bai and Sơn La, along with many other infrastructure facilities in the region, were also damaged. 
Total damage has amounted to more than VNĐ538.2 billion (US$23.7 million)
In his written order, the PM requested provincial People’s Committees, particularly of Yen Bai and Sơn La, to mobilise forces to search for the missing and relocate residents out of zones which are prone to landslides and flash floods, as more rains and floods are expected in the coming days.
The PM also ordered authorities to support households incurring damages, treat the injured and bury the dead. They were also asked to provide temporary shelters and food for affected residents.
The National Committee for Search and Rescue, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security were told to deploy local forces to assist search and rescue activities and help localities overcome flood consequences. 
While the Transport Ministry has to support the provinces to ensure traffic safety in areas hit by landslides, the Health Ministry must direct grassroots medical staff to provide free healthcare for the injured and help local residents ensure post-flood hygiene. 
Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Minister Trinh Dinh Dung came to Mu Cang Chai District in Yen Bai Province, one of the hardest hit localities, to direct and supervise rescue and recovery efforts.

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