Hanoi: The death toll from vicious flooding in central Vietnam nearly doubled to 48 on Thursday as rains continued to punish swaths of Asia, forcing some 130,000 from their homes in southern China and killing nearly 140 across the region this week.
The spike in Vietnam came after disaster officials were able to finally access isolated areas that had been cut off by the high waters. Another 23 people remained missing as villagers started returning to areas where the water was receding.
"People are cleaning their houses and trying to put life back to normal," said disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai in hardest-hit Quang Binh province, where 20,000 people were driven from their homes. "Many schools are also doing cleanup to soon welcome back students."
Parts of the country`s north-south rail service have been disrupted since Tuesday due to damaged tracks, and Giai said bad weather on Wednesday grounded helicopters making supply and food drops to areas still under water. Forecasters are predicting more rain, but it is not expected to cause severe flooding.
Meanwhile, the worst flooding to strike southern China in nearly half a century forced 130,000 people from their homes, the country`s state media reported.
Heavy rains lashed the island province of Hainan, forcing 550 villages to flee, leaving thousands homeless with streets inundated and roads damaged, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Two people were missing, but no casualties were reported.
At least 7 inches (18 centimetres) of rain fell in 16 cities over the past week, the Hainan provincial government website said. More rains and strong winds are expected through Friday.
Further south in Indonesia, rescuers in West Papua province searching for survivors cleared away debris in the hardest-hit village of Wasior where residents had been swept away earlier this week by mudslides and flooding after a river burst its banks. Efforts were hindered by blocked roads and damaged bridges.
Ninety-one bodies have been pulled from the mud and wreckage of crumpled homes, said Dortheis Sawaki, head of the province`s relief operations` office, adding that with more than 100 others reported missing, the toll was expected to rise.
More than 150 others have been hospitalised with injuries, mostly broken bones.