Vietnam deployed hundreds of soldiers and heavy machinery today to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons in the region in decades.
The landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam late on Wednesday, killed 13 with 40 missing as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm, the government said. State media said 12 fishermen died at sea.
“We can forecast the storm path or the amount of rain, but can’t predict when landslides happen,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement.
“The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out quickly,” Dung said.
State television said the bodies 12 fishermen were found on Thursday after their boats sank when trying to return to shore two days earlier. Two navy vessels had been mobilised to find them and 14 were still missing.
Since early October, Vietnam has been battered by storms, heavy rains and floods which have affected over a million people.
The government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged 56,000 houses. It weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall on Wednesday and is expected to reach Laos later on Thursday.
Images on social media showed villages overwhelmed by flooding, and roads filled with debris, toppled trees or blocked by landslides.
Before the storm, people in affected areas had shared photos of corrugated roof tiles bearing their names and addresses, to help facilitate rebuilding efforts.
Heavy rain of up to 700 millimetres (27.5 inches) will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Saturday, the weather agency said.
Before it hit Vietnam, Typhoon Molave passed through the Philippines, where it caused flooding and landslides that disaster authorities on Thursday said had killed at least 16 people.