13 dead, crocodiles on the loose in fresh Vietnam floods


Hanoi : Floods triggered by fresh heavy rains have killed at least 13 people in central Vietnam as victims now face a new threat from hundreds of escaped crocodiles swimming around the floodwaters, officials said Monday.

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Rising waters in Khanh Hoa province damaged the enclosures of a crocodile farm, allowing hundreds to escape into the Cau River, according to Phan Huy Thang, head of the forestry department of the province, 400 km north of Ho Chi Minh city.

Some of the crocodiles weigh more than 200 kg and so far five of them have been shot, but it was unknown how many of them are swimming in the floodwaters, Thang said.

The province has deployed the military to hunt for the crocodiles, according to Nguyen Thai Nhu Tri, head of the flood and storm department of the province.

“We have warned people of the danger of crocodiles,” Tri said. “No one has been reported attacked by crocodiles so far.”

The weekend’s heavy rains, brought on by typhoon Peipah, which had faded to a tropical depression before making landfall, saw waters rising again in central Vietnam, which has been hit by floods four times this year.

Floods have killed four people each in Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai province, three people in Quang Nam province and two in Khanh Hoa province, according Van Phu Chinh, head of the Flood and Storm Department in the central region.

“Flood water level keeps rising and it is still raining very heavily now following the storm Peipah,” Chinh said. “We are afraid that the death toll will continue to rise.”

Rainfall in central provinces averaged 300 mm Sunday. In some areas in Thua Thien Hue province, the rainfall reached 1,000 mm and in Quang Nam province it reached 625 mm, according to the Central Flood and Storm Department.

“It just keeps raining and floods are overlapping floods,” said Phan Thanh Tuan, head of the flood and storm department of Binh Dinh province, where floods have killed at least four people while two others are missing.

“We cannot do anything about it and people just keep dying due to carelessness and tragic accidents in the floods,” Tuan said.

Floods have plagued central Vietnam four times since early October this year, killing at least 175 people, including around 90 people killed in the storm Lekima and the floods it triggered.