Several Vietnamese soldiers have been killed and many more are missing after a huge landslide engulfed an army barracks during the country’s worst floods ‘in years.’
A frantic search is under way for any survivors buried underneath thick mud at a military station in Quang Tri province in the centre of the south Asian country.
So far 11 have been confirmed dead and 11 others are still missing – bringing the overall death toll of this week’s heavy rains to at least 64.
‘We had another sleepless night,’ a visibly emotional Phan Van Giang, Vietnam’s deputy defence minister, told reporters on Sunday.
Witnesses described rocks ‘raining down like bombs’ on the camp which was built at the bottom of a mountain.
‘From 2am, there have been four to five landslides, exploding like bombs and it feels like the whole mountain is about to collapse,’ said local official Ha Ngoc Duong, according to the VnExpress news site.
Heavy rain has pounded the region for more than a week, causing widespread floods and landslides and there are concerns the waters could rise further, according to Vietnam’s disaster management authority.
Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang, the army’s chief of general staff, warned there could be further landslides in the area and said rescuers needed to find a safer way to access the site.
It comes just days after 13 members of a rescue team were found dead after a failed attempt to save workers from a hydropower plant engulfed by a landslide.
The bodies of two employees at the plant have been found but 15 are still missing after the tragedy in the neighbouring province of Thua Thien Hue.
River levels in Quang Tri have reached their highest in two decades, state media said. The disaster management authority raised its risk alert warning to the second highest level on Sunday, warning of further flooding and landslides.
Vietnam is prone to natural disasters and regularly suffers more than a dozen storms each year, often bringing flooding and landslides.
More than 130 people were reported dead or missing in natural disasters around the country last year, the General Statistics Office said.
Cambodia has also been hit by heavy flooding and the death toll there jumped to 20 on Saturday, including six children, according to disaster management authorities.
Heavy rain of up to 600 millimetres will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Wednesday, Vietnam’s weather agency said on Sunday.
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