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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tropical Storm Mirinae kills 23 people in Vietnam, 2 in Cambodia

HANOI, Vietnam - Tropical Storm Mirinae unleashed severe flooding in parts of central Vietnam, killing 23 people, leaving two missing and stranding families on rooftops, disaster officials said Tuesday.

The death toll in the hardest-hit province of Phu Yen was 15 after the storm drenched the region with heavy rain Monday, said disaster official Dang Thi Lanh.

"Many villages remain cut off by rising waters and we expect the death toll to rise," she said.

Several villages in neighbouring Binh Dinh province suffered the worst flooding in four decades after the Ha Thanh River surged over its banks, said disaster official Nguyen Van Hoa. Five people were killed by falling trees or were washed away by floods in Binh Dinh and two others were missing, Hoa said.

In Khanh Hoa province, south of Phu Yen, three people were killed, a disaster official there said, refusing to give his name, citing policy.

Vietnam's western neighbour, Cambodia, reported a 40-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter died Monday night when the storm toppled trees onto their house in Mondulkiri province, about 325 miles (520 kilometres) east of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Three other people from the same family were injured, said Neth Sophana, deputy chief of the disaster management committee of the Cambodian Red Cross.

In Vietnam, the military sent two helicopters to drop instant noodles to people in isolated villages and to rescue people who were still trapped on rooftops a day after the storm, which lost force as it moved inland.

"We have received many calls for help from people who are still stranded," Hoa said by telephone.

Ho Quoc Dung, vice chairman of Binh Dinh provincial People's Committee, said about 400 soldiers were mobilized to use speed boats to reach areas cut off by flooding and have ferried out more than 1,000 villagers.

Several thousand remain stranded, he said.

Mirinae hit the Philippines with typhoon strength over the weekend, killing 20 people before losing power as it moved across the South China Sea toward Vietnam.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia were still recovering from Typhoon Ketsana, which brought the Philippine capital of Manila its worst flooding in 40 years when it struck in September. Ketsana killed 160 people in Vietnam and at least 18 in Cambodia.

In the Philippines, Ketsana and two later storms killed more than 900. Some 87,000 people who fled the storms were still living in temporary shelters when Mirinae struck.

In a separate incident in northern Vietnam on Monday, one woman drowned and five others were missing after a whirlwind toppled two boats in Quang Ninh province, disaster official Le Thanh Nam said.

Sixteen other passengers managed to swim to safety after the boats sank, Nam said.

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