November 7, 2007 / 11:07 AM / 11 years ago

Floods kill 82 in Vietnam, typhoon likely at weekend

(Adds bird flu fear)

HANOI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Dozens of people were killed in central Vietnam trying to cross streams or salvage wood in floodwaters, raising the death toll to 82 ahead of a typhoon due to land at the weekend, government reports said on Wednesday.

Storms and floods have killed nearly 200 people since early October. The disasters caused property and crop damage of $300 million and delayed the coffee harvest in the Central Highlands coffee belt, squeezing supplies to global markets.

In the latest inundation since Oct. 26, at least 82 people had been killed in nine provinces and Danang city, provincial disaster management committees said.

The government asked provincial authorities to alert people to the danger in moving around while floodwaters were receding, as dozens more deaths were reported in the past two days as people tried to salvage wood and cross streams.

Floods in Quang Tri province could help spread bird flu from its Gio Linh district, where officials confirmed the virus in ducks last month, an Agriculture Ministry official was quoted as saying.

Quang Tri is one of four provinces in Vietnam that have reported bird flu outbreaks among birds in the past month. Hanoi also asked coastal provinces to warn fishermen as Typhoon Peipah, which killed five people in the Philippines before entering the South China Sea on Monday, headed for the Vietnam coast.

At least 9,000 fishermen were still off the southern provinces of Bac Lieu and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, the official Vietnam News Agency said.

The government said the area between the Paracels and the Spratly islands was extremely dangerous in the path of Typhoon Peipah, a Chinese word for a popular pet fish in Macau. Winds at the storm’s centre were up to 133 km (83 miles) per hour.

The typhoon was heading southwest toward the central province of Khanh Hoa bordering Daklak, the country’s top coffee growing province in the Central Highlands.

Rain was expected from Friday in Daklak and nearby coffee-growing provinces, Vietnamese forecasters said. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh)

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