Vietnam typhoon death toll rises to 61 ahead of Apec summit

At least 61 people have died after Typhoon Damrey tore through central Vietnam, disaster officials said yesterday, as heavy flooding cast doubt on a planned retreat for Apec leaders’ spouses at the ancient town of Hoi An.

The weather system hit just days before Vietnam welcomes world leaders to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Danang, and has left several areas totally submerged in the worst flooding in years.

While Danang itself has not been seriously affected, heavy flooding has hit Hoi An, a Unesco World Heritage Site known for its unique blend of buildings, some dating back to the 15th century.

Large swathes of four central and southern provinces were submerged yesterday, officials said, with the death toll likely to rise further as the search for at least 28 missing people got under way.

“We are facing a major threat in all the affected areas. All the lakes and rivers are full,” Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at an emergency meeting on Sunday, according to the state-controlled VNExpress. He added that flood levels were close to surpassing records set in 1997.

Some 30,000 people were evacuated and around 116,000 properties were submerged or damaged after the typhoon hit last Saturday. Restaurants and hotels in Hoi An were inundated with water, and tourists were evacuated from hotels on boats.

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