Thousands of tourists stranded by Vietnam floods

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Hanoi, Nov 13: Thousands of foreign tourists are stuck in central Vietnam after flooding cut off roads and railways. The government today forecast more rain this week.

About 2,500 foreigners were among 3,000 tourists who have been confined to hotels in the city of Hue by floodwaters triggered by heavy rains from a tropical depression, a newspaper said.

At least 24 people had been killed and eight missing in seven provinces, disaster reports said. About 25,000 people had been evacuated to higher ground in the region battered by two typhoons and subsequent floods in the past six weeks.

Nearly 150 old houses have been submerged in Hoi An town, a World Heritage site and a popular tourist destination in Quang Nam province, state media said.

Floods peaked yesterday following rains of up to 1,450 mm (57 inches). Water levels were receding slowly while more rains were expected by Wednesday, a government report said today.

Deaths this week have raised the regional toll to 332 people, 114 of them since October 26.

Damages were estimated at 350 million dollars and rains disrupted the coffee harvest in the Central Highlands in the past two weeks. The harvest is already two weeks later than usual because of prolonged rains at the end of the wet season.

But rains had stopped since Sunday, allowing growers to resume harvesting, an official in Daklak, the leading coffee growing province, said today.

Health officials warned people that floods could help spread bird flu in Quang Tri province. There is concern there will be more water polluted by duck excrement. Ducks act as carriers of the H5N1 bird flu virus, which they shed in their droppings.

They also said contaminated water could cause more cases of acute diarrhoea, which has affected more than 1,600 people in northern and central Vietnam, 204 of whom were confirmed to have cholera bacteria.


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