Floods and landslides caused by a huge tropical storm have killed at least 43 people in Vietnam, with many more reported missing.
The storm slammed into the northern and central parts of the country earlier this week, injuring 21 people and destroying or damaging more than 1,000 houses. Infrastructure was damaged and crops destroyed in six provinces, the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said.
Among the missing is a local journalist who was reporting on the floods and was swept away when a river bridge collapsed, the BBC reported.
In the hardest-hit northern province of Hoa Binh, at least 17 people have died and 15 others are missing.
The deaths included four families whose houses were buried in a landslide early on Thursday while they were sleeping, killing nine and leaving nine others missing, disaster official Tran Anh Tuan said.
“More than 250 soldiers, police, militiamen and villagers have been mobilised for the search,” Mr Tuan said on Thursday.
“But they are facing difficulties because of the huge volume of soil, mud and rocks that buried the houses.”
Evacuations were ordered for 200,000 people in Ninh Binh province in the north.
Deadly flooding and storms are common in Vietnam but this year’s death toll is already one of the highest ever recorded, the Vietnamese disaster prevention agency said.
The tropical depression hit central Vietnam on Tuesday, bringing heavy rains, but weather officials have warned that the tropical depression may intensify into an even more powerful storm in the coming days.
More rains were forecast for parts of the northern and central regions on Thursday as a cold spell moves from southern China to Vietnam, the disaster agency said in a statement.
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Meanwhile, another tropical depression was expected to hit the Philippines on Thursday evening and could strengthen into a tropical storm as it moves across the South China Sea.
Agriculture Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong was quoted as telling a government emergency meeting on Wednesday that it was the first time in a decade that northern and central regions suffered as much rain in a short period of time.
Up to 20 inches (50cm) of rain was reported over the three-day period ending on Wednesday in some areas.
Additional reporting by agencies