Vietnam provinces fight worst floods in decades

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THANH HOA, Vietnam, Oct 7 (Reuters) A typhoon followed by floods and landslides killed up to 34 people in Vietnam, cut power and closed roads in some of the worst flooding in decades, officials said today.

The government storm prevention committee said that at least 19 people were missing in the aftermath of typhoon Lekima which slammed the central provinces on Wednesday night.

Thanh Hoa and Nghe An provinces were hit hardest by torrential rains, strong winds blowing off roofs and floods submerging entire villages.

''We have not seen flooding like this in 20 years,'' Nghe An provincial official Nguyen Xuan Hanh said by telephone. ''It was so fast and so out of the blue.'' In August a storm and subsequent floods killed nearly 80 people in several central provinces. At the time, officials said hundreds of thousands faced food shortages.

Yesterday, helicopters dropped food to stranded villagers as rescuers waded through chest-high water to help people to safety.

A dyke on the Buoi river in Thanh Hoa broke, causing extensive flooding, a government report said. On Friday, officials said that police and soldiers helped move about 22,000 people to higher ground away from a dam in the same province.

Officials said they were having difficulty providing emergency supplies to thousands of people. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was also providing assistance.

The government said preliminary damages from the typhoon, the fifth of 2007, stood at 659 billion dong (41 million dollar).

The storm and floods destroyed about 100,000 homes mainly in central provinces and 15,000 ha of rice crops.

The three-month flood and storm season often ends this month in Vietnam, which faces up to 10 storms a year, causing millions of dollars in damage and killing hundreds of people.

REUTERS PD PM0915

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