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Vietnam province requests relocation of 20,000 houses over riverbank collapse

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 12:04 GMT+7

Authorities in the southern Vietnamese province of An Giang have requested the relocation of 20,000 households due to the threat of increasingly serious subsidence along local rivers.

A delegation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment convened a working session with authorities in An Giang on Tuesday evening, discussing the collapse of the Vam Nao riverbank that sunk at least 14 houses last weekend.

Speaking at the meeting, Tran Dang Duc, director of the An Giang environment department, said that the subsidence had affected an area 70 meters across and 35 meters into the riverbank.

The threat of further subsidence continues, with another 90 houses in the neighborhood at risk, Duc continued.

According to reports from the provincial People’s Committee, some 38 cases of riverbank collapse had occurred in An Giang over the past two years, sinking 142 houses and causing VND100 billion (US$4.4 million) in damages.

About 51 locations are now at risk of subsidence, with local authorities proposing the relocation of nearly 20,000 residences.

Concluding the meeting, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha praised the efforts of An Giang leaders for evacuating residents promptly.

The Institute of Geosciences will be tasked with evaluating the situation and proposing measures to cope with the issue, Ha said.

The exploitation of sand along local rivers will also be closely managed to prevent negative impacts on the environment.

The subsided bank of Vam Nao River in An Giang. Photo: Tuoi Tre 

Emergency evacuation

With regard to the land collapse along Vam Nao River, residents of the affected homes were able to relocate before the collapse thanks to a local man who was swimming at the river.

As part of his daily routine, Nguyen Van Be, 67, took a dip at river section and noticed that one part of the waterway was much deeper than usual and later discovered a large crack running along the bank.

Following the report by Be, authorities arrived quickly to the area to assess the situation, before issuing an emergency evacuation.

About 150 officers were tasked with assisting residents to move their furniture and valuables outside.

Despite initial disagreement, all residents living in the at-risk houses were evacuated after 20 minutes.

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