Vietnam Prepares Mass Evacuation as it Braces for Typhoon Vamco

vn-molave.jpg Women walk in a flooded road after their village was isolated in the aftermath of Typhoon Molave, in Tinh An village, Quang Ngai province, Vietnam October 29, 2020.

As Typhoon Vamco barrels closer to Vietnam, authorities in the country’s central coastal region have ordered hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate from the third straight typhoon to hit the area, state media reported.

The region between Quang Binh and Quang Ngai provinces has already been hit by two typhoons over the past few weeks. Prior to that, it endured weeks of heavy rains, floods, and landslides beginning Oct. 6 that killed hundreds and displaced thousands.

Typhoon Molave, which was the most powerful storm to hit Vietnam in 20 years when it made landfall there on Oct. 28, was followed by Super Typhoon Goni Nov. 2, which has been described as the “strongest storm this year.”

Now Vamco rages in the South China Sea, on a collision course with an already badly battered Vietnam. Vamco ripped through the Philippines Friday, killing at least 42 with 20 more missing, according to an Associated Press report.

Meteorologists predict Vamco will make landfall in Vietnam near Da Nang Saturday or early Sunday, with the storm’s winds now clocking in at 144 miles per hour.

Authorities in Thua Thien Hue province and the seaside industrial city Da Nang are planning to evacuate 135,000 local residents ahead of the storm.

The government is also warning of flash floods and landslides, forcing rescue workers to halt their search in a Thua Thien Hue hydropower plant where 12 workers have been missing since an Oct. 12 landslide.

Floods kill four

Local media outlet Youth Online reported that floods have killed four people Thursday and Friday in the central region.

Per that report, the Quang Dien district People’s Committee in Thua Thien Hue said a 47-year-old woman named Hoang Thi Thao died Thursday trying to rescue chickens from drowning in the floods. Two others in the province’s Phong Dien district died Thursday when their boats overturned.

On Friday, a student named Tran Thi Ngoc Huyen was killed after her father drove her in a farm truck to Hue city during flood conditions. The truck fell off the road into a field. Rescue teams found Tran Thi Ngoc Huyen dead, while her father and brother were injured.

The increasing frequency of typhoons in Vietnam is directly related to climate change, and presents substantial risks for the Vietnamese economy, according to Jun Rentschler, an economist with the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

“These disasters, the current floods for instance, they're becoming more and more frequent. At the same time people are moving into high risk zones,” he told RFA.

“More and more economic activity is happening in coastal regions … so a bigger part of the economy is starting to be exposed to this risk at the same time,” added Rentschler.

“So really there's an urgent need for action in order to protect, not just current and past development progress, but also to make sure that future progress can be resilient to these kinds of shocks,” he said.

Rentschler and other economists last month penned a report on Vietnam’s developing coastal region as a major opportunity for growth, but with high disaster risks. The report commended Vietnam’s efforts to mitigate disaster, but said it needed more concrete plans in place to balance opportunity and disaster.

“The coastal regions could be a powerful engine for Vietnam’s continued socioeconomic development, but rapid urbanization, economic growth, and climate change mean that disaster risks are bound to increase in the future,” the report said.

Reported by Giang Nguyen for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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