Typhoon Damrey leaves 29 dead, 29 missing

Typhoon Damrey has wreaked havoc in the central and south central coast of Việt Nam, killing 29 people and leaving 29 missing by Sunday 1pm, according to the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control.

Police in Quảng Nam Province help evacuate people from flooded areas. - VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Sơn

The typhoon, the 12th major storm to hit Việt Nam this year, made landfall early Saturday morning with winds of up to 135km/h. The typhoon then weakened into a low pressure and entered Cambodia.

The hardest hit regions include the south central provinces of Khánh Hoà, Phú Yên, and Bình Định, the Central Highlands provinces of Đăk Lắk, Đăk Nông and Lâm Đồng, and the central provinces of Quảng Nam, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế, and Đà Nẵng City, where the first events of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week were taking place.

Major General Trương Đức Nghĩa, Chief of Office of the National Search and Rescue Committee, said this was “the strongest storm to make landfall in Khánh Hòa Province and the south central region in the last 20 years.”

He said the danger level of Damrey was even higher than that of Typhoon Doksuri which pummelled the central region in September.

Initial estimates showed the typhoon levelled more than 600 houses, damaged nearly 40,000 homes and flooded nearly 30,000ha fields of rice, vegetables and other crops.

About 230 fishing ships and vessels were either sunk or ruined while nearly 1,500 fish farms were damaged.

Ten trains and more than 80 flights were cancelled.

According to estimates by the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, as of Sunday, the road network suffered losses of VNĐ70 billion (US$3 million) due to the storm.

The storm also uprooted trees, knocked down electricity poles and damaged power grid systems, which led to widespread blackouts in the central and south central regions.

All of Phú Yên Province and Khánh Hoà Province except for Nha Trang City; and all of Bình Định Province other than Tam Quan District suffered from total blackouts. Parts of Đắk Lắk, Kon Tum, Đắk Nông and Quảng Ngãi provinces shared the same fate.  

As of late Sunday afternoon, State-owned power utility Electricity of Vietnam said it had repaired and rendered operational all 220kV and 500kV power grids hit by the typhoon. A major part of the 110kV power grid was also restored. However, the company had to cut power in some areas from Thừa Thiên-Huế to Bình Định to ensure people’s safety as floods worsened.

Serious flooding

Heavy rains and strong winds continued throughout Sunday in the central region, causing serious flooding.

From Quảng Trị to Bình Định provinces, floodwater levels rose rapidly, submerging and isolating many areas as the region was warned of a historic flood.

According to the Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Search and Rescue of Thừa Thiên-Huế Provine, water level of rivers in the province increased very quickly on Sunday.

Many parts of National Highway 1A passing the province were submerged in 0.4-0.5m of water which caused prolonged traffic jams. Provincial police were mobilised to direct traffic and guide vehicles to avoid dangerous areas.

Heavy downpours, combined with water released from Sông Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant, flooded many areas of Quảng Nam Province, including the ancient city of Hội An, which hosts some APEC activities this week. City authorities banned local people from using boats to carry tourists around the old quarter of the city to ensure their safety.

At about 11am on Sunday, a landslide happened in National Highway 14E passing Phước Hoà District in the province. Local authorities said two to three motorbike drivers were passing by at that time and risked being buried under the debris.

Local police and soldiers were sent there for rescue efforts. 

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Lê Trí Thành said on Sunday that all localities in the province were following developments to be responsive.

A landslide due to heavy rain also occurred at Trà Giang District of Quảng Ngãi Province on Sunday morning, killing two women and injuring another.

Weather forecasts said heavy downpours would continue to lash the region for several days, bringing risks of more flashfloods and landslides.

In Đà Nẵng, city authorities and people on Sunday worked around the clock, despite heavy rains and winds, to collect the huge amount of debris left after two days battling the storm, including rubbish, fallen trees and billboards.

The city’s leaders held an urgent meeting in the day’s afternoon to discuss actions to clean up the city in time for APEC events this week, including the APEC leaders’ summit which has the attendance of the top leaders of APEC economies.

Urgent relief

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Sunday sent a message asking all authorities and agencies to quickly repair the damage caused by the typhoon and proactively respond to heavy rains and flooding.

He urged the leaders of provinces directly hit by the storm to spare no effort in searching for and rescue missing people.

He also asked local authorities and ministries to support disaster victims by providing accommodation, medical and food aid, guiding people to take measures to prevent after-flood outbreak of pandemic, repairing damaged houses and restoring the power network while ensuring the safety of dams and reservoirs.

He urged them to mobilise all forces and means needed to restore traffic along key roads, especially National Highway 1 and the North-South railway.

Ealier, on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng visited several localities in Phú Yên and Khánh Hoà provinces to inspect the damage caused by the storm and direct relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the Standing Board of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee on Sunday decided to allocate VNĐ3 billion ($132,000) to the hardest hit regions. 

The funds will be used to provide relief aid families of the deceased, missing and injured, and those whose houses collapsed or were swept away. 

Khánh Hoà Province will receive VNĐ1 billion ($44,000) while Phú Yên, Bình Định, Đắk Lắk and Quảng Ngãi provinces will receive VNĐ500 million ($22,000) each.

Also on Sunday, the Việt Nam Red Cross Society released emergency aid, including money and essential goods valued at nearly VNĐ1.1 billion, to help the provinces of Khánh Hoà, Bình Định, Phú Yên and Đắk Lắk. The organisation also dispatched two teams to Khánh Hoà and Bình Định to directly help storm affected people.

Source VNA