Vietnam flood toll hits 49 ahead of APEC summit
At least 49 people have died after Typhoon Damrey slammed into central Vietnam, disaster officials said yesterday, as heavy flooding cast doubt on a planned retreat for APEC leaders' spouses to the ancient town of Hoi An.
The weather system hit just days before Vietnam welcomes world leaders to the APEC summit in Danang and has left several areas totally submerged in the worst flooding in years.
While Danang itself has not been seriously affected, heavy flooding has hit Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its unique blend of buildings, some dating back to the 15th century.
Large swathes of four central and southern provinces were submerged yesterday, officials said, with the death toll likely to rise further as the search for at least 19 missing people got under way.
"We're facing a major threat in all the affected areas, all the lakes and rivers are full," Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at an emergency meeting on Sunday, according to state-controlled VNExpress.
He said flood levels were close to surpassing records set 1997.
Some 30,000 people were evacuated and around 116,000 properties have been submerged or damaged since the typhoon hit Saturday.