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Cablegate: Vietnam Hit by Worst Typhoon in Ten Years

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002569

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
USDOC FOR 4430/MAC/ASIA/OPB/VLC/HPPHO
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA KEN ISAACS, GREG GOTTLIEB
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA MICHAEL MARX, ROB THAYER, BART
DEEMER
STATE FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA DAA WILLIAM GARVELINK
BANGKOK FOR OFDA SENIOR REGIONAL ADVISOR TOM DOLAN
KATHMANDU FOR OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR WILLIAM BERGER
GENEVA FOR USAID NANCY KYLOH
USDA FOR FAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ECON ENRG VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM HIT BY WORST TYPHOON IN TEN YEARS

1. Summary: A typhoon has caused severe damage to coastal
and mountainous areas of northern Vietnam. While loss of
lives was minimized due to the Government of Vietnam's (GVN)
early preparation and evacuation efforts, an estimated
200,000 people lack food and perhaps a greater number of
people suffer drinking water shortages caused by seawater
penetration in dug wells as far as three to four kilometers
inland. About 1,500 houses in the coastal area have been
completely submerged while another 15,500 houses lack proper
roofs. According to Vietnam News Agency, Typhoon Damrey has
caused an estimated VND 3.3 trillion (roughly USD 207
million) in damages. International organizations including
UNDP, UNICEF, Red Cross and Oxfam have mobilized to provide
emergency relief assistance. The GVN has requested
international assistance from foreign nations. Mission
Vietnam will continue to monitor the situation and is
considering to request emergency disaster assistance. End
Summary.

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2. On September 26, 2005, areas of northern Vietnam were
hit by Typhoon Damrey (named Storm Number 7 in Vietnam),
which the GVN has described as the "most vigorous" storm in
the past ten years. With wind forces reaching up to 132
kilometers per hour, the storm reached wind speeds equal to
Beaufort Scale 12 or Category Two hurricane. The typhoon
created storm surges of 3-4 meters in coastal provinces of
Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Thai Binh, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh and
Thanh Hoa and localized flash floods in the northern upland
provinces of Yen Bai and Lao Cai.

3. According to Mr. Nguyen Tu Cuong of the People's Aid
Coordinating Committee (PACCOM) of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA), as Typhoon Damrey approached the GVN
conducted its first-ever major storm evacuation. The GVN
evacuated 600,000 people away from the coastline, reinforced
sea dikes to ensure human safety and called 40,000 fishing
vessels back to harbor. As a result of the swift response
to early storm warning systems and effectiveness of
contingency plans funded over the past five years by
USAID/OFDA, human losses in coastal areas were minimized,
with less than ten deaths. However, heavy rains that caused
flash floods in upland areas raised the total number of
confirmed casualties to 68 people as of October 2, 2005.

4. Damage to homes, livestock, crops and water supplies is
relatively extensive within affected coastal districts.
According to representatives of a GVN/Donor/NGO Disaster
Management Working Group (DMWG), which met on October 2, an
estimated 200,000 people lack food and perhaps a greater
number of people suffer drinking water shortages caused by
seawater penetration in dug wells as far as three to four
kilometers inland. About 1,500 houses in the coastal area
have been completely submerged while another 15,500 houses
lack proper roofs. Hundreds of schools and public health
clinics remain submerged or heavily damaged. Saltwater and
dead livestock contaminate water wells used for drinking.
According to Vietnam News Agency report of October 2,
Typhoon Damrey has caused an estimated VND 3.3 trillion
(roughly USD 207 million) in damages to districts in
Vietnam's northern mountains and coastal areas.

5. On September 28-29, DMWG disaster specialists from GVN,
UNDP, UNICEF, IFRC and Oxfam UK conducted a rapid assessment
to the worst affected coastal areas of Thanh Hoa, Ninh Binh
and Nam Dinh provinces. Needs identified in the joint
assessment report include: food; drinking water; pumps and
technologies to purify contaminated water wells; medicine to
prevent diseases (Note: Reuters allegedly reported localized
cholera outbreak while a Ministry of Health representative
denies that report); education materials for schoolchildren;
"Household Kits" comprised of cooking materials, blankets,
mosquito nets, etc.; clothing; and temporary shelters. The
DMWG members expressed particular concern for the socio-
economic needs of these farming communities and food stock
security due the long-term impact of seawater on crops and
future income levels.

6. According to the MOFA representative, GVN has allocated
VND 420 billion (USD 26 million) for disaster preparedness
measures such as sea dike reinforcement and relief efforts
including rice and dry noodles distributions. (Comment: The
Embassy is seeking confirmation of this figure. End
Comment.) The Vietnam Red Cross and Buddhist organizations
have launched fundraising campaigns. The Fatherland Front
has reportedly raised VND 18 billion (USD 1.1 million) from
the overseas Vietnamese community.

7. Several international organizations have pledged support
for disaster relief. The International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies is providing USD 500,000 to
Vietnam Red Cross for food, shelter, and 900 boxes of
Household Kits. UNDP has mobilized USD 50,000 for
coordination support and has pledged an additional USD
100,000 in emergency relief funds. UNDP is dispensing pre-
positioned supplies/household kits while Oxfam UK has
pledged USD 100,000 for assistance activities.

8. According to the MOFA representative attending the DMWG
meeting, the Prime Minister has called upon foreign nations
including those without embassies in Hanoi to provide
emergency relief assistance. The GVN has also requested
support from DMWF to serve a donor coordination role.

9. Mission Vietnam will continue to monitor the situation
and is considering to request emergency disaster assistance.

MARINE

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