Thousands evacuate as Vietnam capital battles flood

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The Independent Online

More than 40,000 people were evacuated from inundated areas of Hanoi today and some residents who stayed behind had to cope with floating garbage as they waited for flooding to recede even though rains eased.



Authorities in Vietnam's capital moved more than 10,300 families from their homes and asked the army to stand ready to help victims of the worst flooding in the city in more than two decades, the online VNExpress newspaper reported today.



Flood waters from southern China caused rivers in northern Vietnam to swell to their peaks today, worsening inundations across a wide region that have killed 127 people, 93 of them in northern and central Vietnam.



Among the dead were 22 people killed in Hanoi, which has a population of about 6 million and includes urban and rural areas.



"Garbage and home appliances are floating everywhere. The water is black and as black as acid," a Reuters witness said by telephone from Tan Mai, an urban area about five miles south of Hanoi's centre.



"Each lane is like a ferry station and it is chaotic, like in wartime."



More storms are forecast to strike Hanoi late this week, possibly bringing tornadoes and strong winds, the national weather centre said.



Vietnam, the world's third-largest rice exporter, has reported nearly 642,000 acres of rice, corn, sugarcane and fruit had been submerged.



But its main agricultural areas, including the Central Highlands coffee belt and the Mekong Delta rice basket - both several hundred miles to the south - have not been affected by the floods.



Vietnam's Health Ministry has called on all medical staff in flooded area to prepare for any outbreaks of cholera or dengue as residents parts of Hanoi and 17 other provinces struggled with shortages of fresh water, food and power cuts.

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