HANOI, Oct 30 (Reuters): Rescue teams searched for more signs of life on Friday after a series of deadly landslides in central Vietnam unleashed by heavy rains from Typhoon Molave, as yet another powerful storm barrelled towards the South-East Asia region.
Helicopters, soldiers and search dogs have been deployed to look for dozens of people feared dead in Vietnam in at least five mudslides in a central 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.
Central Vietnam has had a tough year, grappling with typhoons that killed at least 160 people, left dozens missing, devastated towns, wiped out crops and forced hundreds of thousands into shelters.
Meanwhile, a another storm named Goni gathered strength as it edged slowly towards the Philippines, packing winds of up to 165 kilometres (103 miles) per hour.
It could make landfall in the Philippines early Sunday, with winds of up to 185 kph, its weather agency said. Molave killed 22 people in the Philippines.
Goni is 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," Nguyen Thi Sinh, a resident of Quang Tri province, said by phone.
"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," Sinh added.
Vietnam News/ANN reported that 16 people have died and dozens are still missing after two separate landslides in central Vietnam.
Authorities say 42 people remain missing across both sites.
Late Wednesday night 45 people were buried after bad weather caused a landslide at village 1, Tra Leng Commune a remote mountainous district of Quảng Nam Province.
Another eight people are also unaccounted for after another slide hit village 1, Tra Van Commune, about 40km away.
Search and rescue efforts began at first light Thursday morning until Friday morning but teams faced difficulties reaching the affected areas as a number of smaller landslides had blocked roads.
Authorities say 37 people remain missing across both sites.
The devastation was caused by Storm Molave which brought heavy rains across the central regions when it made landfall on Wednesday night.
In total, floods and landslides triggered by the now-weakened Typhoon Molave in Vietnam's central and central highlands regions had left 23 people dead, 47 missing and 45 injured as of Thursday night, the country's Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control said on Friday.
The fatalities were recorded in Quang Nam, Dak Lak and Gia Lai provinces, while the missing and injured were reported in Quang Nam and Binh Dinh provinces, according to the committee.
The natural disasters destroyed 2,642 houses, damaged 92,356 and inundated 2,415, and as many as 576 communes suffered from power outage, said the committee.
More than 100 electricity poles and nearly 8,800 trees were knocked down. Roughly 5,500 hectares of rice and other crops, some national highways and local roads were also damaged.
As many as 6,260 military personnel have been mobilised for the search and rescue work and to help local people cope with Molave, which is among the strongest typhoons that hit Vietnam in the past 20 years.
Vietnam also reported four new imported cases of Covid-19 infection on Thursday night, bringing its total confirmed cases to 1,177 with 35 deaths from the disease so far, according to its Ministry of Health.
The ministry announced that as many as 1,062 patients in the country have been given all-clear as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, over 14,200 people are being quarantined and monitored in the country, the ministry said.
Vietnam has gone through 57 straight days without any Covid-19 cases in the community, according to the ministry.
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