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Viet authorities prepare for coming storm season

HANOI, May 14 — Local authorities have started repairs and upgrades on irrigation systems and reservoirs ahead of the wet season.

The National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said an unpredictable and complicated wet season was coming, bringing heavy rains to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

In Hanoi, 21 areas in the city would be flooded with more than 100mm of rain expected this summer.

Even after the light rain last Monday, streets near the center were flooded and Van Ho Street received the most rainfall with 38mm falling.

Luu Van Hai, deputy director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Yen So Pumping Station, which discharged up to 90cu.m per second into the Red River, and 18 other stations, each with a capacity of 20cu.m per second, would be mobilized around-the-clock to assure the city was free from floods if less than 50mm of rain fell.

Mobile pumping stations would be installed in flood-prone areas and sewerage system flows would be increased in case 100mm of rain fell.

The city's department of construction said improvements to the inner-city drainage system were close to completion, including dredging lakes and drainage canals and upgrading equipment to avoid flooding on Ba Trieu, Huynh Thuc Khang, Ngoc Hoi, Tran Huy Lieu streets.

More than 50 lakes have been dredged and 93 stormwater drains repaired.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Nguyen Van Khoi asked relevant agencies to finish traffic construction projects to clean up the roads and repair dangerous potholes.

In the central region, which is forecast to be hit by a third of the total tropical rain between September and December, further preparation, including large amounts of food and necessities for emergencies, plus shelter and rescue equipment, have been carried out.

Speaking at a meeting last Thursday, Vice Chairman of Da Nang City People's Committee Phung Tan Viet said global positioning systems had been installed on 121 fishing vessels.

He said the city could mobilized over 2,400 soldiers and police and 97 canoes and boats for rescue work and to provide necessities at shelters.

However, the city lacked a safe port for fishing vessels.

"The largest dock of Tho Quang in Son Tra districts only shelters 500 vessels each – a quarter of the total 2,000 – excluding over 1,200 fishing boats from neighboring provinces," said deputy director of the municipal Agriculture and Rural Development Department Huynh Van Thang.

Last year, two floods occurred in the city, killing five people, injuring seven and inundating over 17,000 households.

The estimated loss was VND90 billion (US$ 4.2 million).

In southern Dong Nai Province, upgrading was not so extensive as it was not so prone to heavy rain.

Provincial authorities have defined about 250 landslide-prone spots and found 248 safe places in case of evacuation.

They have required Long Khanh District and Bien Hoa City to make regular checks of riverside areas and dredge obstacles to ensure optimum flow.

According to the provincial Flood Prevention and Control Committee, the first storm this year, in March, killed two people, injured 11, destroyed 2,150 houses and submerged 1,300ha of crops.

In southern Tien Giang Province, protection of agricultural crops has been given priority.

Le Van Huong, vice chairman of the provincial People's Committee, said the province had arranged to protect crops in flood-prone areas of Cai Lay, Cai Be, Chau Thanh and Tan Phuoc.

In northern Thai Binh Province, dike violations, such as illegally exploiting sand, encroaching riverside areas and throwing waste garbage in the river, were blocking the provincial irrigation system.

Up to 550 cases of river encroachment have been detected, especially along 40km of banks along the Kien Giang River.

Head of the Thai Binh Province's Dyke Management and Flood Prevention Department Nguyen Phu Nhuan said the irrigation capacity of rivers had been seriously downgraded, a reduction of 50 per cent compared to the design.

Downgraded dykes along the Red and Day rivers are the main problems in northern Ha Nam Province.

In the 360km dyke system, many parts, up to 10km, needed to be rebuilt or upgraded.

Local authorities have been ordered to strengthen inspections and punish violations along dikes and rivers and quickly improve facilities to get ready for the wet season.

The northern province of Ninh Binh's Kim Son District is a key storm area and Nho Quan and Gia Vien districts are flood prone.

The province, with 460km of dykes and 44 reservoirs, will have people on duty around the clock between May 5 and November 30, including police, soldiers and civilians, according to local authorities.

It has upgraded dykes with more than 2,700cu.m of rocks and 1,100cu.m of cement at a cost of VND3 billion ($ 144,000). About 2 million cubic meters of mud has been dredged to assure water flow in the Hoang Long River.

In Kim Son District, a new headquarters is planned to come into operation in July to serve the mitigation of natural disasters and search and rescue at sea.

In up-north Son La Province, the local Flood Prevention and Search and Rescue Committee has examined more than 30 hydro-power projects, pushed dike construction and maintenance and listed 561 households living in dangerous areas.

Pham Duc Dung, deputy director of the Standing Office Committee for Flood Prevention and Control, said all road construction was to end this month and a map of landslide-prone areas identified and information sent to local residents to help them protect themselves. (PNA/VNS) hbc/ebp

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