Rescue teams have been searching for more signs of life after a series of deadly landslides in central Vietnam unleashed by heavy rains from Typhoon Molave.
- Molave is the most powerful storm to hit Vietnam in 20 years
- Typhoons have already killed at least 160 people in central Vietnam this year
- Another potential typhoon is forecast to reach the hard-hit region next week
Helicopters, soldiers and search dogs have been deployed to look for dozens of people feared dead following at least five mudslides in a region battered by weeks of intense weather and the worst floods in years.
Molave has killed close to 40 people since it arrived in Vietnam two days ago, although many people were rescued on Thursday, including three fishermen found in the sea by a cargo vessel and 33 people pulled from a tiny village buried by earth.
“The typhoon has left extremely huge damage,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung told a cabinet meeting on Friday.
The immediate focus for rescuers was on three villages in the country’s central region where landslides killed at least 19 people and are suspected of burying more than 40 others in thick mud and debris.
The Deputy Prime Minister travelled to the site of one landslide where soldiers were working to clear debris with bulldozers and he ordered officers to urgently send more troops to help with the efforts.
“We must reach the landslide site the fastest way. First, send in more soldiers before we can get the big machine there. We have to reach the area by all means, including by using helicopters,” he said.
Molave was the most powerful to hit Vietnam in 20 years and has cut power to at least 1.7 million people.
At least 40,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters and authorities shut down offices, factories and schools to prevent casualties.
Ninth typhoon barrelling toward Vietnam
Central Vietnam has had a tough year, grappling with typhoons that have killed at least 160 people, left dozens missing, devastated towns, wiped out crops and forced hundreds of thousands into shelters.
As rescue operations were underway, another powerful storm was barrelling towards the South-East Asia region.
Named Goni, the system had gathered strength as it edged slowly towards the Philippines, packing winds of up to 165 kilometres per hour.
It could make landfall in the Philippines early on Sunday, with winds of up to 185 kmh. Molave killed 22 people in the Philippines.
Goni was on course to reach central Vietnam later next week and would be the country’s ninth typhoon this year.
“My house is covered in deep mud and debris but I have no plan to clean it up as I heard more storms are coming,” said Nguyen Thi Sinh, a resident of Quang Tri province.
“No one had foreseen such severe flooding. Crops and livestock are all gone with the flood water. We have to encourage ourselves, at least we are still alive.”