Floods submerge Vietnam villages, up to 67 dead

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HANOI, Oct 8 (Reuters) The homes of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese villagers were still underwater today after days of some of the worst flooding in decades that killed up to 67 people.

Government reports said Typhoon Lekima that blew in on Wednesday night and its aftermath caused damage in nine northern and central provinces.

The northern province of Thanh Hoa and its southern neighbour Nghe An were worst hit. Officials there and in Ninh Binh province said floodwaters reached levels last seen in the mid-1980s.

''The situation is very acute. People have been sleeping on rooftops for three or four days. The water is filthy and some are complaining of stomach problems,'' Joe Lowry of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in Thanh Hoa province about 150 km south of Hanoi.

Over the weekend, stricken villagers in Thanh Hoa and Nghe An received medicine, bread and instant noodles dropped by helicopters or delivered in boats.

Up to 67 people have been killed and 14 were missing, government reports said.

The underdeveloped Southeast Asian country of 85 million faces up to 10 storms a year that cause millions of dollars in damage and kill hundreds of people.

Since last Wednesday, the storm and floods have washed away dykes and irrigation systems and landslides have closed roads.

A dyke broke on the Buoi river in Thanh Hoa, causing severe flooding. The river rose to 14.25 metres (47 feet), 0.26 metre (10 inches) higher than the level of floods in 1985, officials said.

In Nghe An, the Ca river measured 7.9 metres, at the most dangerous level.

Preliminary reports said 5,971 houses were destroyed and 51,794 houses and 213 offices severely damaged. Estimated damages were at least 1.2 trillion dong (74 million dollars).

Reuters ARB VP0925

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