Asian flooding death toll hits 140
Asia's death toll from vicious rains spiked Thursday to nearly 140 as disaster officials reached previously isolated areas in Vietnam, while the worst flooding in parts of southern China in nearly a half-century forced 130,000 villagers to evacuate.
Security forces tried to speed recovery efforts in Indonesia, home to most of the fatalities with 91 dead, by removing debris from blocked roads and fixing bridges.
In Vietnam, the death toll nearly doubled to 48 after disaster officials were finally able to access areas that had been cut off by high waters. Another 23 people remained missing as villagers started returning to areas where the water was receding.
"People are cleaning their houses and trying to put life back to normal," said disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai in hardest-hit Quang Binh province, where 20,000 people were driven from their homes. "Many schools are also doing cleanup to soon welcome back students."
Parts of the country's north-south rail service has been disrupted since Tuesday due to damaged tracks, and Giai said bad weather Wednesday grounded helicopters making supply and food drops to areas still under water. Forecasters were predicting more rain, but it was not expected to cause severe flooding.
Meanwhile, the worst flooding to strike parts of southern China in nearly half a century forced 130,000 people from their homes, the country's state media reported.
Heavy rains lashed the island province of Hainan, forcing 550 villages to flee, leaving thousands homeless with streets inundated and roads damaged, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Two people were missing, but no casualties were reported.
At least eight centimetres of rain fell in 16 cities over the past week, the Hainan provincial government website said. More rains and strong winds are expected through Friday.
Further south in Indonesia, rescuers in West Papua province searched for survivors and cleared away debris in the hardest-hit village of Wasior where residents had been swept away earlier this week by mudslides and flooding after a river burst its banks. Efforts were hindered by blocked roads and damaged bridges.
Ninety-one bodies have been pulled from the mud and wreckage of crumpled homes, said Dortheis Sawaki, head of the province's relief operations office, adding that with more than 100 others reported missing, the toll was expected to rise.
More than 150 others have been hospitalized with injuries, mostly broken bones.