Asia Faces Rising Death Toll From Heavy Rains

Across Southeast Asia and southern China the damage from monsoon rains continues to rise. China’s southern coast is bracing for powerful winds from a typhoon, while the Thai capital Bangkok prepares for weekend floods.

Heavy monsoon rains across Southeast Asia have taken an increasing toll on lives and infrastructure, with reports of the worst floods in Vietnam in decades.

Cambodia also reported heavy flooding, with about 10 deaths and millions of dollars in damage.

In Thailand, television news provided regular updates and images of large areas of farmland under water and towns cut off by the rising floods. By Thursday 21 of the country’s 75 provinces had been hit by floods that have killed at least 15 people.

Bangkok is bracing for floods in the next few days as overflowing rivers in the northern provinces make their way to the sea through the plains of central Thailand.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the central province of Nakhon Ratchasima experienced the worst flooding in 40 to 50 years.

But the most severe has been in Vietnam where rains have claimed over 100 lives, including 20 people from a tour bus swept away by flood waters.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised flood victims assistance in rebuilding.

Official Vietnam media put the damage toll at over $35 million affecting more than 20 communes. Immediate financial assistance has come from China and the U.S.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have launched an appeal for over $1 million to help Vietnam’s recovery effort.

“The relief effort apparently is slowly picking up. In the two worst-affected districts they have already redistributed aid close to $350,000 and reaching out to about 10,000 to 15,000 families – the numbers are not exact yet,” said Bhupinder Tomar, the head of the Red Cross delegation in Vietnam.

Bhupinder says a key challenge is to ensure people have emergency food because floods as deep as five meters have destroyed rice stocks in some areas.

Residents in southern China also have suffered floods in the past few weeks from a long, heavy rainy season. But conditions may worsen as Typhoon Megi approaches the Chinese coast. Authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from coastal provinces ahead of the storm, which claimed nearly 20 lives in the Philippines. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan all are expecting heavy rains, winds and high waves from the storm.

The heavy rainy season this year also has taken a toll in Indonesia, with flash floods killing scores of people and many food crops damaged. – voanews