Landslides in Mekong Delta get more severe

thesaigontimes.com
Van Huynh Tuesday,  May 29,2018,00:00 (GMT+7)
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Five houses collapse after a landslide along the O Mon River’s in Can Tho City on May 21 – PHOTO: LE HOANG VU

CAN THO – Landslides across the Mekong Delta region are getting more unpredictable and increasing in terms of location and speed, according to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research.

After two landslides along the O Mon River in Can Tho City this month, 12 houses sank into the river, 28 houses collapsed, 35 others were on the brink of sliding, and a long stretch of roads and riverside crops were destroyed.

According to the city’s committee for natural disaster prevention-control and search-rescue, the two landslides caused damages of some VND30 billion. The city has provided nearly VND600 million to support affected households.

Vung Liem District of Vinh Long Province nearby has also witnessed a serious landslide recently, resulting in several houses falling into the river. Following this, the provincial government has decided to ban sand exploitation at 19 sites along the rivers of Tien, Co Chien, Hau and Pang Tra with combined areas of over 1,200 hectares.

Households in other Mekong Delta provinces like Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Soc Trang and Ben Tre are also under threat of losing their properties due to landslides.

Initial fact-finding research has found that there are more than 560 riverside and seaside spots hit by landslides stretching a total length of nearly 800 kilometers. Landslides in the region have not followed a certain pattern in recent years.

With riverside landslides alone, as many as 513 spots are prone to landslides along riverbanks with a combined length of 520 kilometers. In provinces in the upstream area of the Mekong River like An Giang, Dong Thap, Vinh Long and Can Tho, landslides occur quite unexpectedly, threatening lives and assets of thousands of households as well as important infrastructure.

According to Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent ecological expert, the Mekong Delta has got alluvial deposited for over 6,000 years. The region extended 16 meters to the East Sea and 26 meters to the cape of Ca Mau 26 meters each year in the past, but it has experienced more erosion now.

Thien said that increasing erosion results from shortages of alluvial and sand, the two main materials for coastal accretion. A reason for such an imbalance is the building of many hydropower dams that retain alluvial in upstream areas and overexploitation of sand.

Assoc. Prof. Le Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Research Institute for Climate Change at Can Tho University, said that it is essential that sand overexploitation be stopped to prevent further erosion.

Tuan recommended localities in the region tighten control on riverside construction works and force high-risk areas to relocate households, produce maps with landslide warnings, and avoid planning residential areas, industrial parks and construction works in areas highly prone to landslides.

A working team of the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority came to inspect landslides in Mekong Delta localities on May 23 in order to come up with timely solutions.

Nguyen Truong Son, deputy director of the authority, cited data of the Mekong River Commission as saying that sand volumes in the Mekong Delta region has declined by 32%, which is the main reason behind severe erosion there.

After the inspection trip, the team will compile all reasons and propose solutions to ease damages to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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