National efforts tackling natural disasters scrutinised

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai presided over an online conference on March 28, reviewing the outcomes of natural disasters prevention and search and rescue efforts nationwide in 2014 and initiating 2015’s tasks.

Hoang Van Thang, Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, reported that natural disasters occurred in a fewer number and smaller scale in 2014, compared to that of recent years. 

Overall, the disasters left 133 people dead and missing as well as 145 injured, causing a total damage of VND2.83 trillion (US$131.8 million). The Government aided affected localities with more than VND1.5 trillion (US$70 million), 2,000 tonnes of rice and some 1,700 tonnes of seeds. 

Rear Admiral Pham Ngoc Minh, standing vice head of the Vietnam National Committee for Search and Rescue (VNCSR), took note of the timely and effective search and rescue operation across the country under his agency’s instructions and monitoring. 

More than 153,000 people and 5,000 vehicles were mobilised, delivering prompt services to save over 3,800 lives, he said. 

This year, weather conditions will be further complicated with at least nine tropical storms expected to hit the East Sea, including four to five strong storms directly affecting the mainland, informed Hoang Duc Cuong, Director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting. 

According to Cuong, there will be additional floods and landslides striking the Central Highlands region, the northern and central areas, whilst the south is to be hit by severe droughts and salination. 

Participants pointed to weaknesses, such as poor weather forecasts and impractical preparedness in a number of provinces, outdated communication facilities in remote mountainous areas, and limited investments in prevention and logistics work. 

Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai, who heads the National Steering Committee on Calamity Prevention and Control, agreed with those setbacks, urging local agencies to prioritise raising public awareness and devising precaution plans. 

Focal 2015 tasks include completing relevant legal framework as well as scrutinising the national strategy on preventing natural disasters in the context of global climate changes, among others, he declared.