Typhoon Molave makes landfall in Vietnam in the aftermath of deadly floods

Molave hit as the equivalent of a Category 2 Atlantic hurricane, packing sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour (103 miles per hour). The storm is expected to bring rains and dangerous winds as it pushes over the mountains of Southeast Asia, causing potential flash floods and landslides.

Some 310,000 homes were already damaged from last week’s deadly flooding, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), with the organization warning that close to 1.2 million people were “in severe danger and in need of relief.”

“It is estimated that at least 150,000 people are at immediate risk of food shortages and hunger after thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed,” the IFRC said last week.

Vietnamese authorities made plans to evacuate about 1.3 million people ahead of Typhoon Molave’s landfall, and the military mobilized about 250,000 troops and 2,300 vehicles to be used for search and rescue missions, state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

A man rides along a deserted road amid strong winds in central Vietnam's Quang Ngai province on Wednesday Typhoon Molave makes landfall.

Though October is part of Vietnam’s raining season, the country has been inundated by more bad weather than usual. Molave is the fourth named storm system to make landfall in the country this month and the ninth this year, according to VNA.

Storms and a cold snap at the start of October prompted flooding in Vietnam’s central cities and provinces, but the flooding that struck last week was “some of the worst we have seen in decades,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, the president of Vietnam’s Red Cross Society.

VNA reported that more than 7,200 hectares of food crops (17,791 acres) were destroyed and more than 691,000 cattle and poultry were killed or swept away in flood water. Sixteen national highways and 161,880 meters (101 miles) of local roads in four provinces were also damaged. Thousands of homes were also submerged.

Strong winds batter coconut trees in central Vietnam on Wednesday.

The storm damage is also exacerbating the livelihoods of many Vietnamese people already suffering the economic affects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virus has only infected a relatively small number of people in Vietnam, thanks in part to the government’s swift response, experts say. However, Vietnam’s decision to seal its borders has dealt a severe blow to its valuable tourism industry.

“We are seeing a deadly double disaster unfold before our eyes as these floods compound the difficulties caused by Covid-19,” Christopher Rassi, IRFC’s director of the office of the secretary general, said in a statement last week. “These floods are the last straw and will push millions of people further towards the brink of poverty.”


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