Natural disasters turn villagers’ lives upside down

Rescue officials search for bodies of victims of a major landslide that killed 18 villagers in Hòa Bình Province’s Phú Cường Commune on Thursday. — Photo tuoitre.vn

 

HÀ NỘI (Viet Nam News/ANN) - Tears kept rolling down her face as Đinh Thị Lan, a resident of Hòa Bình Province, stood amongst her neighbours, fixated on the huge pile of mud that was once her home. She had just lost her parents and two brothers in a landslide that hit the province’s Khanh Village early Thursday morning.

Lan found out before dawn. She rushed to the village, screaming each of her kin’s names. Daughter of the deceased Đinh Công Huynh, she moved out when she got married.

“They were my everything,” she told Dân Việt online newspaper, unable to hold back tears.

The villagers were asleep when a massive amount of soil and rocks, triggered by heavy rainfall, rolled down an adjacent hill at about 1am Thursday, the newspaper reported. At least eighteen people, most family members, were buried alive.

One of the survivers, Bùi Văn Dũng, 26, was still shaken when recalling the disaster, 35 hours after it happened.

“We were sleeping. It was pitch-dark,” he told Dân Việt. “I opened my eyes to a loud ‘bang!’ and found myself lying under the sky, my legs buried in rocks. Everything was shaking.”

Horrified, Dũng grabbed a flashlight to find his wife and daughter in the same situation some 10 metres away. With his screams for help muted by rumbling sounds, he used the wood beams that were lying around to dig up the dirt and rocks that were crushing his wife and daughter.

The family then ran out of the area, at the sight of massive rocks rolling down from the top of the Khanh Waterfall.

“My wife hasn’t been able to come out [of their temporary shelter] after that,” Dũng said. “My two-year-old seems to have been traumatised – she keeps getting startled in her sleep.”

At least 54 people died, 31 others were injured and 39 are missing due to heavy rains and floods triggered by a tropical depression hitting northern and central localities in the last few days, according to National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention. About 317 houses were destroyed, 1,200 others damaged and 33,300 flooded.

Loss of assets

Heavy rainfall and floods have heaped misery on residents in the affected areas. Although he survived the landslide in Hòa Bình Province, Đinh Công Hưng, 49, lost all of his six buffalos worth VNĐ100 million ($4,400) to floods.

“I slept in a hut to guard our paddy field, some 300m from the landslide area,” Hưng recalled. “Waking up around midnight to loud noises and rocks falling all around, I was about to rush back home when my son called and said the whole village had been buried.”

“We were lucky that our house was further from the mountains so rocks only fell on a part of our buffalo stable,” he added. “But with all of my buffaloes gone, I don’t know how we are going to recover.”

About 6,000 pigs of a 2ha farm in the central Thanh Hóa Province were drowned from October 9-12, Zing.vn reported. Floodwater rose fast on Tuesday afternoon and quickly flooded all of the farm’s stables and facilities, according to Lê Ngọc Hùng, the farm’s owner.

“We saw them trying to swim in vain and couldn’t do anything about it,” Hùng said. “We did our best to evacuate them, but could only save about 200.”

Thousands of pigs were seen floating in muddy water yesterday as floodwater had not subsided, preventing farm staff from moving them. The damage was estimated to amount to billions of đồng, Hùng said.

Ten thousand households in the province’s flood-affected areas have been evacuated since Monday. Thousands of others in the districts of Thạch Thành, Bá Thước, Yên Định, Lang Chánh, Nông Cống and Thọ Xuân are still coping with floodwater.

About 200 households of eight villages in the capital city’s outer Chương Mỹ District were flooded when a nearby dyke broke Thursday morning.

Landslides occurred in dozens of spots of the 30km Provincial Route 174 in the northern province of Yên Bái since the beginning of this week. The province’s Trạm Tấu District, where four members of a local family of five were swept away on Thursday, remained isolated due to floodwaters. — VNS