THANH HOA, Vietnam (Reuters) - More than 50 people were killed or missing after a typhoon, floods and landslides cut power and closed roads in what officials in two Vietnam provinces on Sunday described as some of the worst flooding in decades.
The government storm prevention committee said 37 people were killed and 15 missing. State-run Vietnam Television reported 55 dead and missing in the aftermath of typhoon Lekima, which slammed into several provinces on Wednesday night.
Thanh Hoa and Nghe An provinces in north-central Vietnam were hit hardest by torrential rains and strong winds.
“This may be the worst flooding since 1945,” said Phan Dang Khoa, a Communist Party official in Thach Thanh district of Thanh Hoa where a dyke broke on the Buoi river, causing extensive flooding.
Most of the houses in the area were submerged in water. Many people sat on rooftops with their meagre belongings.
Helicopters have dropped dry food supplies such as instant noodles to stranded villagers.
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.
Lekima was the fifth of 2007, but flooding and landslides in the aftermath have been even more devastating. The storm and floods destroyed about 100,000 homes mainly in central provinces and 15,000 ha of rice crops.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Hanoi said some people who were evacuated last week before the typhoon and returned home, had again been evacuated.
“The situation is worse than first estimated,” said Irja Sandberg, country representative for IFRC.
In Nghe An, large swathes of land were also inundated.
“We have not seen flooding like this in 20 years,” Nghe An provincial official Nguyen Xuan Hanh said by mobile phone. “It was so fast and so out of the blue.”
A storm and subsequent floods in August killed nearly 80 people in several central provinces, including Nghe An. At the time, officials said hundreds of thousands faced food shortages.
Additional reporting by Nguyen Van Vinh