Asian floods complicate relief

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For four days, people in Nakhon Ratchasima province's Pak Thong Chai district's Boh Pla community, Thailand, have been doing their best to cope. With their houses practically submerged, many are trying to move to higher ground and are barely surviving on meagre donations of dry food and water. The death toll from floods caused by heavy rain in central Vietnam rose to 32 on Monday, with an unknown number missing after a bus became submerged, authorities said.

Officials said most of the deaths were in the provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh. More than 150,000 homes were under water after flooding in the two provinces as well as adjacent Quang Binh, officials said.

Local media showed pictures of residents poking heads or hands through the tile roofs of houses surrounded by water. ome areas looked like inland seas, which rescuers navigated in boats, while television pictures showed transport trucks ploughing through flooded roads.

Police officers from Nghi Xuan district in Ha Tinh said the bus passengers disappeared after floodwaters on the main north-south highway submerged the vehicle. One of the affected provinces, Quang Binh, was particularly struggling as it was already affected by flooding earlier this month that left at least 64 people dead in the centre of the country.

State media reported that traffic between the north and south of the country was briefly interrupted as buses and trains could not move on the key national road and rail routes. Nguyen Thi Thuy, a disaster official from Ha Tinh, said that although thousands of soldiers and others had been mobilised to assist flood victims, rescuers lacked equipment. Some Thai areas can only be reached by GMC Army trucks, which cannot transport enough relief bags to fill everybody's stomachs. Though many agencies are trying to help, not many can get to the badly hit areas.

Isolated villagers are hoping that assistance will arrive one day, while many - especially the elderly and children - are unable to wade to dry ground.

Although this community is tiny, it is suffering one of the 'worst floods in 50 years'. It is understandable that many villagers are praying that there isn't another storm headed their way. The Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, also in Muang district, has been closed indefinitely even though it had just started its second semester on Monday.

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