Philippines, Vietnam brace for tropical storm Saudel

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 October 2020 08:13 GMT

Local residents row a boat to a pickup point for delivering aid packages to residents affected by heavy flood in Quang An Commune, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam, October 20, 2020. Yen Duong/International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC)/Handout via REUTERS

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The death toll in Vietnam from weeks of rain has risen to 105, with the Red Cross warning the floods on top of the pandemic could push millions more towards poverty

By Phuong Nguyen and Neil Jerome Morales

HANOI/MANILA Oct 20 (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam and the Philippines braced on Tuesday for a tropical storm that could bring flooding and landslides in both countries, as the death toll in Vietnam from weeks of adverse weather rose to 105, with dozens still missing.

Rescue teams and disaster officials were on standby and preparing equipment in the Philippines, awaiting the arrival on the main island of Luzon later on Tuesday of tropical storm Saudel, which could bring heavy rains and cause mudslides.

Moderate early rains triggered some minor landslides on Tuesday, blocking several roads.

Vietnam's weather agency is expecting Saudel to arrive in its central region on Saturday, bringing more intense rains, risking exacerbating its worst flooding in years.

Floods and mudslides during October have killed at least 105 people in central Vietnam, about a third of those soldiers, with 27 people missing, among those 15 construction workers buried under one of several deadly mudslides last week.

At least 178,000 homes, nearly 7,000 hectares (17,297 acres) of crops have been impacted and 700,000 farm animals killed, official data showed.

Vietnam's current coffee crop harvest and bean quality should not be hurt by continuous rains, traders said, while its main rice growing region will be unaffected.

State television showed people sitting on the roofs waiting for aid from rescuers in Quang Binh province, where floods have blocked roads and cut power.

"I have not eaten since yesterday," an elderly woman told VTV from her roof. "We have nothing, no food, no phone. Nothing."

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in a statement said the floods had compounded the suffering of people already struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

"These floods are the last straw and will push millions of people further towards the brink of poverty," Christopher Rassi, Director of the Office of the Secretary General.

(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Martin Petty)

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