HANOI (Reuters) - Flood water from southern China pushed up river levels in northern Vietnam on Tuesday, worsening inundations across a wide region that have killed at least 120 people on both sides of the border.
Flooding in northern and central Vietnam since last Friday has killed 86 people, including eight children, while 34 have died from flooding and mudslides in southwestern China.
Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rice exporter, has not released any crop damage estimates in the northern delta, but the government said nearly 260,000 hectares of rice, corn, sugarcane and fruit had been submerged.
However, the country’s main agricultural area, including the Central Highlands coffee belt and the Mekong Delta rice basket, has not been affected by the floods, although rain disrupted coffee harvesting last week.
Floods rarely affect coffee trees planted on hilly terrain in five central highland provinces, 1,400 km south of the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. The Mekong Delta, which produces most Vietnamese rice for export, lies further south.
On Tuesday, more rain fell in Hanoi, which has experienced its heaviest flooding since 1984, and the authorities reported 20 deaths in the capital and surrounding area from drowning, electric shock or lightning.
Schools in Hanoi stayed closed on Tuesday and many streets remained submerged.
“This natural disaster is characterised as the largest ever in Hanoi,” Pham Quang Nghi, chief of the Hanoi branch of the ruling Communist Party, was quoted by state media as saying at a meeting on Monday.
More heavy rain could strike northern Vietnam this weekend, the national weather centre said.
In southwestern China’s Yunnan province, mudslides caused by heavy rain killed at least 26 people, with 45 missing, Chinese state media reported. Mountain torrents triggered by heavy rain hit Guangxi to the east of Yunnan, killing eight.
Vietnam’s Health Ministry alerted clinics in flood-hit areas to be staffed around the clock to prepare for any outbreaks of diseases such as cholera or dengue as residents in parts of Hanoi and 17 other provinces struggled with a shortage of fresh water and food plus power cuts.
State-run Voice of Vietnam radio said instant noodles and rice were distributed to flood victims in and around Hanoi on Monday.
More water arrived in the northern province of Lao Cai from China, raising Vietnam’s Red River, the radio station said on Tuesday. Forecasters said Thai Binh river in the northern delta region was also rising.