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Flooded Vietnam Gets Emergency Aid

September 13, 2000

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ The government rushed emergency aid to Vietnam’s flooded Mekong Delta as rescuers spread out Wednesday to evacuate about 65,000 people, government officials said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is touring the disaster areas, has pledged $2.2 million in government aid to four provinces hit by floods and a tropical storm. Two of the provinces, An Giang and Dong Thap, have declared a state of emergency.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued a preliminary appeal for $350,000 in aid. ``The situation is looking a lot worse,″ said John Geoghegan, head of IFRCRCS in Vietnam.

Geoghegan was speaking by phone as he toured An Giang province by boat delivering rice.

``We visited 400 families sitting on the dikes as the rising water just ate it away. You could see it crumbling away before your eyes,″ he said.

The provinces are bracing for worsening floods as water levels rise along the Mekong Delta, said Bui Dat Tram, director of An Giang weather forecast station. Levels will remain high through early October, he said.

Nearly 40,000 people from the provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Long An have already been evacuated to higher ground. Early seasonal flooding, which began in July, has killed four people so far in Dong Thap, provincial deputy governor Truong Ngoc Han said.

He attributed the low death toll to the government’s efforts in recent years to fight seasonal floods by giving farmers loans to raise their houses’ foundations, constructing and reinforcing the dike system and building a canal system to discharge flood waters to the Gulf of Thailand.

More than 700 people were killed in two bouts of floods that hit the central region late last year.

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