The UN Country Team in Vietnam is working with government officials to assess needs after Typhoon Mirinae pummeled the country's centre and south on November 2, the UN said. The death toll rose to 98 people from 33 people yesterday, the Vietnamese government said. Twenty people are missing.

More than 63,000 people remain in evacuation centers in the Philippines, where 26 people died when Mirinae swept across Luzon on October 31, according to the country's disaster council. The UN's World Food Programme is seeking a further 44,000 tonnes of food aid for the country, the UN said.

About 1,126 people have been killed this year in the Philippines as more than 11 tropical cyclones battered the archipelago. In Vietnam, at least 225 people have died in storms and flooding.

Luzon, the worst-hit island in the Philippines, is being lashed with more rain as a monsoonal system moves over the country. The Philippines weather agency issued a gale warning for eastern coastal areas of the island. Flood alerts were raised for other parts of the island.

More than 6,650 families were evacuated in northeastern Luzon because of the threat of flooding, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said today.

Damaged Farmlands

"Widespread damage has also been reported to rice paddies and other farmland" in Luzon, the UN said. The UN has received only about a third of $74 million in donations requested for the Philippines after Typhoon Parma and Tropical Storm Ketsana hit the country in September and October.

More than 87,000 other evacuees were still in relief centers from those storms, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said on October 30.

In Vietnam, more than 16,300 houses were either damaged or destroyed by Mirinae, the National Committee for Flood and Storm Control said in a statement. Almost 174 kilometers (109 miles) of roads were damaged, it said.

More than 240,000 farm animals were killed and 29,000 hectares (71,660 acres) of rice and agricultural produce were flooded or damaged, it said.

Bloomberg - November 7, 2009


Man spends 3 days in tree during Vietnam storm

HANOI, Vietnam — The 69-year-old watchman couldn't swim so when Tropical Storm Mirinae sparked a flash flood he ran, shimmied up a tree and hung on — for three nights and two days.

After several failed attempts to rescue Phan Cao Chuc, a military helicopter was able to reach him Thursday by lowering a cable with a soldier down to grab him and save him from a disaster that has killed at least 108 people in central Vietnam.

But the rescue wasn't without drama. The first cable snapped, tossing the soldier into the 16-foot (5-meter) waters still raging waters below. He managed to swim to safety, but Chuc was now spooked and clung even tighter to the tree. Only after another cable was shot into the tree by a spear, was another soldier finally able to reach him.

"The man initially refused to go, fearing he could be dropped into the river," said Lt. Nguyen Duc Vinh. "It took me 20 minutes to persuade him that it was safe to go with me."

Chuc survived by lodging himself between two branches and catching rainwater in his construction helmet. Soldiers on the ground could not reach him, but on Wednesday managed to at least deliver biscuits, milk and a mobile phone to him through a pulley system anchored to the tree. They then called him and offered calming words of encouragement.

"It's a miracle that this old man survived on rain water for two days and three nights in the tree," Vinh said by telephone from the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.

Chuc worked as a guard at a hydroelectric plant that's under construction in Gia Lai province in the Central Highlands, where five people died from the flooding. Despite rising floodwaters, he stayed to stand watch over the equipment. But when the swollen river suddenly jumped its banks, Chuc and a colleague were trapped. The other man, who could swim, managed to reach dry land. He then sought help for Chuc.

The storm smacked ashore Monday and its death toll was at 108 in central Vietnam by Friday.

In the hardest-hit province of Phu Yen, 72 people were killed and 11 were reported missing. In neighboring Binh Dinh province, 18 deaths were reported.

The storm also injured 66 people, destroyed or damaged more than 27,000 homes and ravaged some 74,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of rice and other crops, according the national committee for flood and storm control.

The committee made an initial damage estimate of 2.1 trillion dong ($115 million), but the number is likely to rise after a more complete assessment of losses.

Central Vietnam, one of the communist country's poorest regions, has been battered by two rounds of storms and flooding in just over a month. Tropical Storm Ketsana killed more than 160 people in the region in late September.

In the Philippines, Ketsana and two other storms killed more than 900.

By Tran Van Minh - The associated Press - November 7, 2009