Heavy floods have ravaged wide areas of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, submerging millions of acres of rice paddy and driving millions of families from their homes, according to reports here yesterday.
Officials in Vietnam and Laos have appealed for help from abroad to meet needs for rice and other food grains as well as canned goods, fish, clothing and medicine.
"Heavy losses will affect both production and the (Vietnamese) people's life fora long time," said a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman at a news conference Tuesday broadcast by the official Vietnam News Agency.
Unseasonally heavy rains generated by Typhoon Lola produced the worst flooding in 35 years in Vietnam, the spokesman reported, adding that 2.3 million acres of crops were submerged in North and South with a loss of 2.8 million tons of rice.
The flood waters affected 4.5 million Vietnamese and about 3 million require emergency relief in the form of makeshift housing and food handouts, he said.
In Thailand, Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanan allocated $2.5 million for immediate flood relief and set aside more money to assist in recovery once the swollen rivers subside.
More than 200,000 villagers have abandoned their homes to escape flooding in Thailand's northern, northeastern and central provinces and the official death count stands at 34, officials in Bangkok said. More than 300.000 acres of farmland were under water and some low-lying areas around Bangkok also were flooded.
The government flew vaccine and other medicine to flood-stricken areas in the northeastern province of Udorn after reports that cholera had broken out. Two deaths were attributed to cholera and nine other cases were confirmed, public health officials reported.
In addition to the flooding, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry official said, nearly 900,000 acres of ricelands were destroyed by insects. An international officials in Bangkok said the insects constituted a long-term problem in Vietnam because of a scarcity of pesticides and working spray equipment.
Flooding was particularly devastating in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's main food-growing region. More heavy rains in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have raised the threat of still higher waters in the Mekong River, the ministry spokesman said.
The New China News Agency, meanwhile, reported that eastern China's major provinces, hundreds of miles northeast of the flood area, are fighting the longest drought in more than 120 years.