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Laos weather bureau official dispels Mekong flood concerns

VIENTIANE, July 20 (The Vientiane Times/ANN): There is no need for immediate public alarm about potential flooding of the Mekong River despite widespread reports of floods in neighbouring countries, especially China, a sector official has confirmed on Monday.

The official from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Meteorology and Hydrology Department, who did not wish to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that China’s floods were not affecting Laos.

“This is because the overflowing rivers in China are flowing east and not affecting Laos,” he said.

According to a China Daily report on Thursday, citing the China Meteorological Administration, heavy rainfall would move into northern China in the next 30 days while continuous rainstorms that hit and flooded southern parts would subside.

Since June, seven bouts of heavy rainstorms have hit about 64 percent of counties in southern China.

From June 1 to July 14, the average precipitation in the south reached 344 millimetres, the sixth highest for the same period since 1961.

By Monday (July 20), the sustained rainstorms had affected 38.7 million people across the northern neighbour, with 141 people missing or dead. The storms had damaged about 29,000 houses, according to the latest national data available from the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management.

“Don’t worry, the Mekong River in Laos is still low at this time of the year. The catchment is also quite far from the danger of flooding,” the Meteorology and Hydrology Department official said.

Before the Mekong River level rises or storms hit Laos, there would be public notifications from the Meteorology and Hydrology Department so that people can prepare, he added.

Floods usually occur during the monsoon season, from August to the end of September, but in rare cases, there have been floods in early June or July.

Some communities located along the Mekong and other rivers will continue to be vulnerable to flooding without protective banks like the one in Vientiane.

Floods are one of the biggest natural disasters affecting Laos, but it is difficult to predict when they will occur.

Flooding of the Mekong and its tributaries and landslides every year affects vast stretches of rice fields, livestock and poultry, many roads, schools, houses and irrigation systems.

Such natural disasters can have a significant impact on the population and economy and are often serious obstacles to the achievement of sustainable socio-economic development. – Vientiane Times/Asian News Network

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