HANOI – Rescue teams in central Vietnam are searching for bodies following a series of deadly landslides triggered by Typhoon Molave, as yet another powerful storm edged slowly towards a country battered by its most intense weather in years.
Helicopters, soldiers and search dogs have been deployed to look for dozens of people feared dead in at least seven mudslides in central provinces deluged throughout October and suffering the worst spell of flooding in two decades.
In Quang Nam province, a district called Nam Tra My was struck by three landslides which killed 16 and injured dozens.
Fifteen people were still missing.
“All I can do is stand here and wait,” said Ho Van Tung, watching with his neighbours in silent despair as rescue workers clawed through the thick, umber mud searching for bodies.
“I’m waiting to see if they find any of the bodies,” said Tung, whose brother-in-law was still buried somewhere below.
“If they do, I’ll rush over there to see if it’s a loved one”.
Molave has killed close to 40 people since it arrived in Vietnam two days ago, although many people were rescued on Thursday, including three fishermen found in the sea by a cargo vessel and 33 people pulled from a tiny village in Nam Tra My.
Central Vietnam has had a tough year, with its tourism industry crippled by the coronavirus pandemic long before the arrival of typhoons that have killed at least 160 people, left dozens missing, wiped out crops and forced hundreds of thousands into shelters.
Meanwhile, a another storm, Goni gathered strength as it moved towards the Philippines, where it could make landfall on Sunday packing winds as strong as 195 kilometres per hour, its weather agency PSGASA said.
Molave killed 22 people in the Philippines.
Goni is on course to reach central Vietnam later next week and would be the country’s 10th typhoon this year.
“My house is covered in deep mud and debris but I have no plan to clean it up as I heard more storms are coming,” Nguyen Thi Sinh, a resident of Quang Tri province, said by phone.
“No one had foreseen such severe flooding. Crops and livestock are all gone with the flood water. We have to encourage ourselves with the fact we are at least still alive,” Sinh added.