Vietnamese bishops appeal for help for central provinces hammered by flooding

A week of heavy rains in Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình pounded residents already crushed by a pollution emergency. At least 29 people are missing, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. “We appeal to all men and women of good will [. . .] to help our compatriots in difficulty,” the bishops said in a statement.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/EDA) – Vietnam’s Catholic bishops issued a plea following heavy rains that began on 14 October, hitting particularly hard the country’s central provinces.

“We appeal to all men and women of good will, to all priests, men and women religious, to all the members of God's people in our country and abroad, to help our compatriots in difficulty,” said the bishops’ statement.

The area, which was struck by a major environmental disaster caused by a steel plant owned by  Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate, has now had to put up with a week of heavy rains that has have brought it to the verge of collapse, especially the provinces of Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình.

For residents, this is one of the worst flooding in years, and local fishermen are in an extremely precarious situation.

What is more, operators of the Hố Hô Hydroelectric Plant made an error in managing its water level. The government has made emergency funds available but locals doubt they will be enough.

Given the intensity of the rains, residents fled to the hills to save themselves from the flooding. Meanwhile, power has been cut and government relief remains in short supply.

So far, "29 people are missing, and 121,000 homes are under water or have been swept away,” the bishops noted. “Many clinics, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, bridges and dams have been destroyed. In an instance, life has become a painful nightmare: crops are lost, food is scarce, as well as clothes and medicine. Children cannot go to school."

The statement ends saying that this provides "a precious opportunity for us to discover the face of the Lord Jesus in our neighbours (Mt 25:21-48), following the wishes of Pope Francis for the Holy Year of mercy. More than ever, the cry of Jesus dwells in our poor brothers and sisters, waiting every day for our help in this emergency. "