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Floods Kill 9 in Vietnam, Threaten Thai Capital

Homes are inundated in Vietnam's Tan Hoa commune, in the central province of Quang Binh, October 2, 2011. Vietnam is also facing serious flooding in its southern Mekong Delta region where thousands of houses and thousands of hectares of rice fields are i

Authorities in Vietnam are reporting nine more deaths from the flooding that has ravaged Southeast Asia's entire Mekong river basin, and forecasters predict heavy rains in the region in the coming days.

Officials say most of Vietnam's 43 dead are children who were unable to escape the reach of Mekong's raging floodwaters. Officials say flooding has submerged nearly 70,000 homes, made roads impassible and forced the closure of hundreds of schools.

Bhupinder Tomar, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross operations in Hanoi, told VOA that the flooding has devastated the country's rice farmers, as well.

"The biggest damage has been, as you can imagine, this being the rice production bowl of Vietnam, the biggest damage has been to economic livelihood and the losses to crops, both standing and planted, has been tremendous," Tomar said. "In fact about 7,000 hectares of rice crop has been lost completely, and total hectares lost has been about 30,000, which means about, roughly 60,000 families have been affected by these losses so far."

Meanwhile, in the Thai capital, Bangkok, officials and volunteers worked feverishly Thursday to fortify the city against floodwaters expected to crest there within days. Almost 300 people have died in Thailand, most of them north of Bangkok in and near the ancient temple city of Ayutthaya.

Authorities say 61 of Thailand's 76 provinces have been hit by the flooding, affecting more than 8 million people.

The Bangkok Post newspaper carried stories Thursday on the human impact of the flooding, under the banner headline "A flood of Tears."

Meanwhile, forecasters continue to track tropical storm Banyan, which moved westward Thursday into the South China Sea, after inundating the Philippines with torrential rains and killing eight people earlier this week. The storm is expected to make landfall near the Chinese-Vietnamese border in the next few days.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.