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90 years old, I’ve never seen any severe disaster like this in my whole life


A Khe sat quietly in the village house watching the army doctor tending the broken collar bone of his 11-year-old grandson. Poor boy, he has been bravely suffering the pain for the past six days since sudden landslides followed typhoon Ketsana struck their village.Landslides have completely destroyed many parts of the road that link A Khe’s village, Tam Rim to other parts of the Tu Mo Rong district, Kon Tum province in the centre highland of Vietnam, one of the Ketsana worst hit areas. It is too dangerous and too far to walk to where they can take the boy for a proper plaster.

Worried about the boy and two other members of his family who also got wounded from that terrified night, 90-year-old A Khe is also trying to come to term with a deeper lost. His son, his daughter-in-law and another grandchild were buried to death under strong force of the landslide that night.

A Khe quietly recalled what happened that night. It was just past eight o’clock at night, 12 people in his family were in the house, some were sleeping, hiding from the torrential typhoon rain. They suddenly heard what sounded like an explosion. Before knowing what was happening, their house was pushed away by a wave of debris.

Too terrified, everybody tried to fight their way to safety. Villagers rushed to the open plot of land in the middle of the village, young and old, flocking in the cold rain, worrying of more landslides would struck.

He and others eventually realised that three members of his family went missing. Some tried to help finding them but it was pouring down, and dark. Only the next morning, they found the bodies.

No house left to live, A Khe and the remained members of his family have been living in this village house. The nerve-wrecking feeling of new landslide remained for A Khe and his villagers since. The first few nights, many of them still gathered in the village flat safer ground in the rain while some others whose house are a bit stronger stayed in with doors open. Some were not dared to sleep, ready to run if landslide happened again.

Six families including a baby, children and old people since have moved out of their house, sleeping in the cold open night in another flat plot of the village.

Warning of further landslides, the provincial and district officials decided to evacuate all of the village’s 62 families and at least 3 other even more isolated villages beyond Tam Rim. The problems for them are where is a safe ground in this mountainous area to move urgently all of these families to and how they can do that in this road condition with limited resources.

The army and police have been summoned to deliver rice and instant noodles to affected villages and to make assess to those still in isolation. Some are staying in Tam Rim to help villagers taking down houses and temporary move them to a hill nearby, but even here new cracks are forming and getting bigger. Where is a safe place?

A Khe and his family life was turned up side down since the typhoon and now their safety are further under threat by new landslides. “90 years old, I’ve never seen any severe disaster like this in my whole life” said A Khe.

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