After killing 108 in 2021, natural disasters remain unpredictable this year

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Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành (centre) chairs the conference on Monday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh

HÀ NỘI — A total of 108 people were killed due to natural disasters in Việt Nam last year, and caused economic losses of up to VNĐ5.2 trillion (US$226 million).

The low losses sustained last year was thanks to the drastic direction of the Government and localities as well as the participation of the community and businesses to minimise the impact of natural disasters, said Lê Minh Hoan, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development at a national conference on disaster prevention, search and rescue at the Government headquarters on Monday morning.

The conference, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành, head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, was connected to the People’s Committee of 63 provinces and cities across the country with more than 19,000 participants.

Hoan said the number of deaths due to natural disasters in 2021 decreased 70 per cent compared to 2020 and the economic losses fell 87 per cent, Hoan said.

He also added that although natural disasters this year are forecast to be less severe than in 2020, they will be more complicated and unpredictable. The country has already seen unseasonal heavy rains accompanied by thunderstorms in late March and early April in the central provinces; extreme cold weather in late February in the northern mountainous areas; as well as earthquakes increasing in both intensity and frequency in Kon Plong District in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum, he said.

The unusually heavy rains in the middle of the dry season, accompanied by thunderstorms and rough seas from March 30 to April 2 in the provinces from Quảng Bình to Khánh Hòa, with a total rainfall of 200-600mm, reaching 835mm in Khe Tre Town, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, was a record not seen in 60 years, he said.

The prolonged extreme cold spell from February 19 to 24 in northern provinces caused temperatures to drop sharply. In some places, the lowest temperature was below 0 degrees Celsius and in Mẫu Sơn Mountain, Lạng Sơn Province, the temperature dropped to minus 1.4 degrees Celsius, he said.

This is the strongest cold spell in 40 years, he said.

Total damage caused by natural disasters so far this year is estimated at VNĐ2.4 trillion ($105 million), nearly half of the economic damage caused by natural disasters in 2021, he said.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, there is a possibility of unusually strong typhoons this year.

About 10-12 typhoons and tropical low-pressure systems are predicted to hit the East Sea this year, including 4-6 typhoons forecast to directly affect the mainland, the centre said.

The annual rainfall this year tends to increase nationwide, with a high probability of extreme rain, the centre said.

It is forecast that flash floods and landslides will occur in mountainous areas and upstream of small rivers and streams as well as dangerous weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, whirlwinds and hail will hit the country this year, the centre said.

Heat wave, heavy rains

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting forecasts a heat wave to hit the northwest, north and north-central regions in the next two days.

The highest temperatures will be about 37-39 degrees Celsius in the north and central regions. The lowest average daily humidity is 45-60 per cent, the centre said.

The centre also said during the holidays from April 30 to May 2, the north and north-central regions will see showers and thunderstorms while the northern mountainous areas will experience heavy rain.

From April 29 to May 3, the central, south-central, Central Highlands and southern provinces are likely to experience showers and thunderstorms, the centre said.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành said there were still shortcomings in natural disasters forecast work and coordination activities.

He cited the recent unusual floods and rains in the sounth-central provinces.

“If we had been able to deliver more accurate forecasts and earlier warnings, surely the damage to people’s property would have been less severe,” he said.

He added that support for people to overcome consequences of natural disasters are still inadequate, while cumbersome procedures cause delays, and do not meet practical requirements.

Thành also said the inter-reservoir operation on river systems, especially in the central and Central Highlands regions, was still ineffective. The coordination and information between the upstream and downstream localities, between provincial and district levels, between reservoir owners, reservoir management units and the local government, are not good enough.

The Deputy Prime Minister asked relevant agencies to focus on several tasks.

First of all, it was necessary to renew and improve the capacity of disaster monitoring, supervision, forecasting and warning, he said, adding that the quality of forecasting is a decisive factor and is the basis for proactively and early deploying disaster response measures.

Second, he mentioned the need to improve the quality of consulting, directing, operating, mobilising and coordinating between units to respond to natural disasters and incidents.

Thành also emphasised the importance of promoting information and communication work, applying information technology, innovate methods of information about natural disasters to residents living in the affected area.

Finally, he touched upon investing in natural disaster prevention and control, including allocating funds for timely troubleshooting; upgrading of dykes, lakes and dams; preventing and controling of riverbank and coastal erosion; investing in specialised search and rescue equipment; and supporting poor households to build houses to avoid storms and floods. — VNS

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