Death toll in Vietnam floods at 36

HANOI - The death toll from flooding triggered by heavy rains in central Vietnam has hit 36, with about 80,000 people forced from their homes, disaster officials said on Monday.

The National Floods and Storms Control Agency said in a statement that the floods had inundated nearly 250,000 homes, but added the flood waters have largely receded, allowing residents to return to clean up their homes.

According to the Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre, tropical depression Zoraida has dumped a daily average of 700 millimetres of rain on five provinces from Thursday to Sunday.

The flooding was worsened when the heavy rains forced 10 hydroelectric power plants to release reservoir water, an official from the Central Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Control said.

Some waterways were running two metres above their normal level, the meteorological centre said. Some parts of the town of Hoi An, a Unesco world Heritage site, were under three metres of water.

The officials said the deaths occurred in five central provinces, with Binh Dinh the worst-hit province with 18 people dead. Another nine people are missing.

Thousands of foreign tourists were evacuated, with many navigating the streets of the historic town in small boats.

More than 242,000 houses were flooded and nearly 3,000 hectares of rice and vegetables destroyed.

The floodwaters had largely withdrawn by Monday and residents were returning to their homes.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms, with hundreds of people killed each year.

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