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Published: Saturday 15 January 2000

If fresh rains hit central coastal Vietnam again it will spell doom for the region, say meteorologist . This area is already struggling to recover from last November's devastating floods that killed around 730 people ( Down To Earth , Vol 8, No 13).

Meteorologist in Hanoi said weather patterns remain complicated and more rains are likely. The floods have been a huge natural disaster for these provinces," Kiet told Reuters Television . The floods are threatening the coastal areas because of widespread illegal logging all along the mountain ranges. However, experts say that there is a growing concern at the provincial and national level about flood prevention in central regions. Officials have put the damage at us $50 million.

Floodwaters have been receding across the region, which stretches for about 650 km and is home to eight million people. Central Vietnam, the country's poorest region, does not make a major contribution to economic output but relief workers have expressed growing concern about how people would support themselves over the next three to six months. John Geoghegan, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Vietnam, said thousands would be vulnerable over this period because the planting of the next rice crop was in doubt.

"Our people have been in remote areas and seen whole villages destroyed," Geoghegan said. Of greatest concern was the situation in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces, he said, although plenty of food and plastic sheeting was getting in. The government was distributing rice and rice seedlings, but it was unclear if farmers would be able to sow the current crop. "People are getting the basics. We have to form a bridge between now and when their next rice crop is due whether that is in March or in June," he said.

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