Typhoon Damrey’s Vietnam Death Roll Rises; AIR Worldwide Comments

November 7, 2017

A powerful typhoon that rocked Vietnam has killed at least 44 people, left more than a dozen missing and caused extensive damage to the country’s south-central region ahead of a summit that will draw leaders from around the world, the government said Monday.

The Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said in a statement that widespread flooding was reported in the region and that more than 116,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. In addition to the dead, 19 people are missing, including nine crew members of cargo ships that sank off the coast of Khanh Hoa province.

Typhoon Damrey hit Saturday and had already dissipated, but the disaster agency said flooding may get worse as heavy rain was forecast for the region. The area hit includes Danang, which is hosting an economic summit later this week that will be by President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders.

Many of the banners and posters for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang were damaged, but were fixed by Monday. There was only light rainfall in the city on Monday.

A half-hour drive away in the ancient town of Hoi An, where spouses of the APEC leaders were scheduled to visit, residents said they were suffering from the worst floods in decades.

“Our family of six members has to live on the second floor, where we had to move all our belongings,” said Nguyen Thi Hong, 70, who has been selling silk products in the town for the past 30 years. “Life was very difficult because there was no electricity and we have to use boats to get around.”

Another local resident, Nguyen Huu Ngai, said it was the worst flooding in the area since 1999, adding that in “previous rainy seasons, the water was shallow, but this year the water is so high that we have to use boats.”

Shops in Hoi An, a UNESCO world heritage site popular with tourists, were closed and boats were the only means of transportation in many flooded parts of the town.

Rains of up to 78 centimeters (30 inches) were reported in some parts of the central region over the 24 hours until Sunday evening. Light rains were reported in the region Monday morning.

The typhoon was the second to hit Vietnam in a month.

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[Editor’s note: Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said Typhoon Damrey is the strongest typhoon to hit southern Vietnam in 16 years. Areas from the south-central coast of Vietnam southward to Vũng Tàu were directly affected by the storm system, said AIR, noting that wind damage near the landfall area was significant, causing ripped off roofs, knocked down electricity poles, downed trees, and widespread power outages.

Interacting with a cold front from the north, Typhoon Damrey caused torrential rain across the entire central and south-central region, with flooding and landslides reported, said AIR. Further damage was predicted as rain continues through Wednesday, with many rivers and lakes reaching capacity. Maximum storm surge height was observed at 0.9 meters, further exacerbating flooding in coastal cities.

The Communist state’s Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control said the typhoon leveled more than 1,300 houses, and damaged nearly 115,000, according to AIR.

The resort town and industrial center of Nha Trang, capital of Khanh Hoa, was directly hit by strong Category 1-equivalent wind, along with rain and flooding. Cities near landfall were also strongly affected, including Da Nang, where the APEC Summit is hosting world leaders this week. Local authorities made significant efforts to clear downed trees, removed damaged signs, and otherwise prepare the city in advance of the event.

Flooding is widespread through the central region. More than 1,700 people were evacuated from the Cần Giờ District in Ho Chi Minh City, and tourists were evacuated as Hoi An Town in Quang Nam was submerged with waist-deep water. The Agriculture and Rural Development Minister warned that “all the lakes and rivers are full,” surpassing historic flood levels set in 1997.

Agricultural damage was reported for 30,000 hectares of crops, including more than 5,000 hectares of rice and nearly 15,000 hectares of vegetables.

According to AIR, after landfall, Damrey lost force within hours. It passed quickly through Vietnam, moving northwest to neighboring southern Cambodia on Sunday afternoon, local time. Precipitation from Damrey may cause continued major flooding in south-central Vietnam over the next several days, with continued flash flooding and landslides, AIR said.

Damrey was the 16th typhoon to make landfall this year in the Northwest Pacific, the fourth to make landfall at Vietnam and the strongest to hit south of Qui Nhon in 16 years since Typhoon Lingling.

AIR said that Vietnam is still reeling from a tropical storm that struck more than two weeks earlier, which caused massive flooding and mudslides farther north in central Vietnam, submerged more than 30,000 houses and damaged infrastructure and crops.

Vietnam is currently ranked as the 52nd largest insurance market in the world and the 57th largest non-life (P/C) market, AIR said, noting that non-life and health insurance penetration in Vietnam lag significantly behind comparable countries. In 2014 non-life (P&C) market premium represented 0.54 percent of GDP, for example, compared with 1.13 percent in China and 1.37 percent in Thailand, AIR added.]

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