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Church rushes aid to northern Vietnam flood victims

HANOI (UCAN): Church workers in Vietnam have rushed to provide emergency supplies to people cut off after some of the worst floods in decades hit the country’s northern and central mountainous provinces.
Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains over the past few weeks inundated eight provinces, according to officials.
Vietnam’s Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control reported on September 4 the floods had killed 14 people, while four others were missing. They also damaged or destroyed 1,200 houses, 5,700 hectares of crops, and killed 60,200 heads of cattle and poultry.
Thanh Hoa was the worst hit province according to Caritas with at least five parishes were badly affected and a church in Phong Y parish and one in Da Loc sub-parish were completely flooded.
Father James Mai Van Toan, a local parish priest, three other priests, seminarians and lay leaders used boats to move people to higher ground and provided basic supplies.
Church sources said thousands of students were affected as schools were also badly damaged and would remain shut despite the new academic year which started on September 5.
On September 2, director of the local Caritas branch, Father Paul Nguyen Van Thuong, and his team needed more than seven hours to cover 70 kilometres to bring aid to Phong Y parish because some bridges had collapsed and roads were inundated, according to one church worker.
The priest has since appealed for donations of money, food, clothes and other supplies to help ease victims’ losses and suffering.
Father Joseph Nguyen Tien Lien, from Mai Lien parish in Son La Province, said local Catholics had offered bread, clean water, clothes, mosquito nets and blankets to flood victims in hard-hit Hat Lot town, eight kilometres away.
Some 100 families had all their belongings washed in the worst floods seen since 1991, he said.
“Lay leaders are calculating victims’ losses and plan to provide basic supplies for them. In the future we will seek financial support and build houses for those who had their homes destroyed,” Father Lien said.

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