Flood-hit regions grapple with price hikes, disease outbreaks

Flash floods have continued causing chaos in the central region as residents struggle with outbreaks of disease and price rises for essential items.

18 passengers whose bus was swept away are presumed dead.

Hundreds of soldiers using boats and metal detectors were mobilised to search for the missing passengers, state television reported.

The bus was yanked off the main north-south road as it travelled through Ha Tinh province beside the swollen Lam River on Monday. Eighteen other people on the bus swam to safety or were rescued after clinging to trees and power poles.

Tran Dac Luc, a survivor, was quoted by the VnExpress news website as saying the bus floated at first, but then began to sink slowly as the driver tried to calm passengers.

„The driver asked everyone to stay calm so that he could try to drive onto the pavement,“ he said.

When that did not work he asked people to break the windows, which would not open until he used a wrench, allowing several people to crawl out, he said. Luc escaped only to watch his son and niece climb free but retreat to the bus because they could not swim, VnExpress quoted him as saying.

„We looked at the bus sinking completely,“ he said. „I have no hope for them to be alive.“

„I think they are all dead,“ Tran Van Long, deputy head of police in Nghi Xuan district, told AFP.

„The search will continue until the time we find the bus and the bodies.“

„I think they are all dead,“ Tran Van Long, a local police chief, told the AFP news agency. „The search will continue until the time we find the bus and the bodies.“

VietnamNet online news site listed the names of the 18, who included 11 women and three children, among them an eight-month-old girl.

The floods have wreaked havoc in Ha Tinh, where authorities said more than 150,000 homes had been inundated.

„The disaster has left thousands of people in the province penniless after their assets were swept away in the flood waters. They have nothing left to eat or drink,“ the chairman of Ha Tinh’s local government, Vo Kim Cu, was quoted as saying in the state Vietnam News on Tuesday.

Television pictures showed rescuers in boats delivering instant noodles.

„My house is flooded to the roof,“ Nguyen Thi Mai, a Ha Tinh resident, said on the official Voice of Vietnam radio.

She said all her furniture had floated away but she and her husband were staying.

„Officials gave us noodles and clean water today.“

People have suffered „a very severe shortage of food products“ in recent days and the top priority is to get them food and water, Nguyen Bang Toan, a Communist Party district chief in Ha Tinh, said on state television.

„We have to save them from hunger,“ he said.

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