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Floods kill 6 in Vietnam's coffee belt

  • Story Highlights
  • 6 dead, 14 missing, thousands evacuated in Vietnam's Central Highlands
  • Hard-hit Daklak and Lam Dong are Vietnam's top coffee-growing provinces
  • Storm moving slowly north-northwest toward the Tonkin Gulf
  • Vietnam's oil and gas production not disrupted, as facilities south of storm
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HANOI, Vietnam (Reuters) -- Six people died, 14 were missing and thousands needed urgent evacuation from floods in Vietnam's Central Highlands coffee belt, the government said on Monday.

A storm, centered 100 km (60 miles) east of the central city of Danang early on Monday, had already dumped rains of up to 400 mm (15.75 in) in the coffee-growing region since Wednesday, triggering flash floods, it said.

Two people were killed and 14 were missing after flash floods swept them away in the highland province of Daklak, while about 3,000 people were evacuated to higher ground as several small dams broke.

Four people died in the neighboring province of Lam Dong, where about 500 people were displaced by floods, and 3,000 people in Dak Nong province also needed to be evacuated.

"As of Monday morning rains have eased, flood waters in small rivers are at a peak but still rising in large rivers," the government's Floods and Storm Prevention Committee said in a report.

Daklak and Lam Dong are Vietnam's top coffee-growing provinces, accounting for half its output. Along with three other provinces in the Central Highlands, they produce 80 percent of the country's coffee.

Industry experts say the coffee crop is safe as most of the trees are planted on hillsides. The hilly terrain would also help flush water away quickly.

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Besides, rains last week helped green coffee cherries develop and harvesting will not start until late October.

But 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of mainly rice and corn have been submerged in the region, the government report said.

Meanwhile the storm, which formed in the South China Sea last week from a tropical depression, was moving slowly north-northwest toward the Tonkin Gulf at 10 km per hour (6 mph), the national weather bureau said.

The government said all fishing boats had left the path of the storm.

But heavy rains were expected in the Central Highlands and several coastal provinces from Thanh Hoa to Danang city in the next few days.

The central region is not a key rice-growing area.

Oil and gas production in Vietnam, Southeast Asia's third-largest crude-oil producer, has not been disrupted, as all the oil rigs and facilities are south of the storm's path.

Tropical storms and typhoons often strike Vietnam from August to October. Last year 10 storms hit the country where about 500 people were killed by floods and landslides, the government said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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