Vietnam’s devastating flooding

Vietnam has faced the most catastrophic flooding in decades, resulting in over 100 deaths and the displacement of 90,000 people

Photo by Duc Hung for VnExpress.

— 3 minute read — by Safia Bartley

In the first two weeks of October, Vietnam’s rainfall rose to six times higher than their average for the month. This was the result of Storm Linfa and Storm Nangak – cyclones that have ravaged through Quang Nam, Quang Tri, Hue and Da Nang.  

Quang Nam is a tourist hotspot home to the historical town of Hoi An and the My Son Sanctuary, but due to the torrential rain, much of it has been left submerged in up to 1.3-metre-deep water. The Vice-chairman of the town Nguyen Hung, quickly announced a pause to all tourism-based activities in the hope that the focus would shift to those in need of aid. Another reason for this move was to prevent any further danger to those visiting.

The storms have triggered a series of landslides causing further difficulties. In the Huong Hoa District alone, over 1,100 families have been evacuated for fears of instability. Tragically, four people are said to have been swept away and remain missing. Roads in and around Quang Tri and Quang Binh have been completely blocked by the landslides causing further closures to tourist attractions like Son Doong (the largest cave in the world) and the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Having not fully recovered from the economic or social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of these tourist attractions will only create further problems for the Vietnamese economy and the national recovery.

63% of Vietnam’s population live in rural areas of the country and the ability to immediately reach those affected and provide aid has proven difficult. The Red Cross have supplied approximately £250,000 in aid and relief and will continue to do so until the situation becomes more manageable. So far, the high waters have submerged over 178,000 homes, swept away or killed 700,000 livestock, and destroyed vast swathes of crop – meaning millions of people will be driven further into poverty.

Vietnam is bordered by an extensive stretch of the South China Sea to the east and south and is thus hugely susceptible to extreme and very destructive tropical storms and flooding. This time last year, very similar extreme weather hit Vietnam, resulting in 132 deaths and injuring another 207 people. The heavy rainfall they often face can occur very suddenly and abruptly – as seen when the Thua Thien-Hue Province received 500mm of precipitation in one day. This is evident every time the nation enters its annual typhoon season which runs from around June to the end of November. 

With such catastrophic damage so far, one can only hope that the remainder of the season brings with it calmer weather patterns and considerably less damage than Vietnam has experienced in the past month.