Landslide hits Vietnam army barracks, 22 soldiers missing; bad weather hampers search


Intense rains since early October have caused floods and mudslides that have killed at least 64 people in central Vietnam. - AFP

HANOI, Oct 18 (Reuters): A landslide early on Sunday left at least 22 soldiers missing in Vietnam's central province of Quang Tri, the government said, as the South-East Asian country battles the worst flooding in years.

Intense rains since early October have caused floods and mudslides that have killed at least 64 people in central Vietnam, with more heavy rainfall expected over the next few days.

The landslide hit the barracks of a unit of Vietnam's 4th Military Region, the government said in a statement on its website, days after another landslide killed 13 people, mostly soldiers, in the neighbouring province of Thua Thien Hue.

"We had another sleepless night," a visibly emotional Phan Van Giang, Vietnam's deputy defence minister, told reporters on Sunday.

State media reports said on Sunday water at rivers in Quang Tri province rose to the highest levels in more than 20 years.

In Thua Thien Hue province, rescuers continued to battle driving rain as they searched for at least 15 construction workers missing and feared dead after a landslide at the start of the week in a mountainous area.

Heavy rain of up to 600 millimetres will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Wednesday, Vietnam's weather agency said on Sunday.

A submerged house in the central province of Quang Bình. - The Vietnam News/ANNA submerged house in the central province of Quang Bình. - The Vietnam News/ANN

Meanwhile, Vietnamese rescuers battled driving rain on Friday as they searched for at least 15 construction workers missing and feared dead after a landslide at the start of the week in the mountainous central part of the country.

Intense rains since early October have caused floods and mudslides that have killed at least 55 people in central vietnam, with more heavy rainfall expected until early next week.

The landslide took place on Monday at a hydropower dam project in the province of Thua Thien Hue, with two workers confirmed dead up to now.

Another landslide later that night killed 13 rescuers, mostly soldiers, while they were on the way to search for the missing workers. Their bodies were recovered on Thursday.

"They bravely sacrificed to save people," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement on Friday, describing the deaths as a great loss to the army.

Heavy rain and the risk of more landslides was making it difficult to bring badly needed equipment to the site of the hydropower dam to aid the search, the government said in the statement on its website.

"The military is determined to continue to send troops and equipment to the site of Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant project for the search and rescue operations," the government said.

In a new development, Vietnam News reported that US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink on Saturday (Oct 17) announced an initial US$100,000 in disaster relief funds to help the country cope with the consequences of tropical storm Linfa.

These funds will be provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VNRC) to address the immediate humanitarian needs of vulnerable communities in areas most affected by the storm.

Linfa, the sixth tropical storm to have hit Vietnam this year, made landfall in the central part of the country on Oct 11. Just three days later, another storm, Nangka, hit the northeastern region.

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