Bad weather hampers Vietnam's search for victims of landslide

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese rescuers battled driving rain on Friday as they searched for at least 15 construction workers missing and feared dead after a landslide at the start of the week in the mountainous central part of the country.

FILE PHOTO: Flooded villages are seen in Quang Tri province, Vietnam October 13, 2020. Ho Cau/VNA via REUTERS.

Intense rains since early October have caused floods and mudslides that have killed at least 55 people in central Vietnam, with more heavy rainfall expected until early next week.

The landslide took place on Monday at a hydropower dam project in the province of Thua Thien Hue, with two workers confirmed dead up to now.

Another landslide later that night killed 13 rescuers, mostly soldiers, while they were on the way to search for the missing workers. Their bodies were recovered on Thursday. [L4N2H635A]

“They bravely sacrificed to save people,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement on Friday, describing the deaths as a great loss to the army.

Heavy rain and the risk of more landslides was making it difficult to bring badly needed equipment to the site of the hydropower dam to aid the search, the government said in the statement on its website.

“The military is determined to continue to send troops and equipment to the site of Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant project for the search and rescue operations,” the government said.

State media said on Friday it would take days for the rescuers to reopen a damaged road leading to the site, more than 90 km (56 miles) west of the ancient city of Hue.

A tropical depression that is moving towards central Vietnam will bring more heavy rain until next Wednesday and beyond, the government’s weather agency said on Friday.

The depression is expected to dump up to 500 millimetres (20 inches) of rain in Thua Thien Hue and other parts of central Vietnam, the agency said.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Ed Davies