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Hoi An's Great Flood of 1964

Every year, Hoi An's annual floods blanket the riverside streets of the Old Town in a murky, blue-green water, making for plenty of tourist photo opportunities. By this point, local residents are used to a yearly flood on their doorstep – and sometimes in their homes – however the central region's tempestuous weather can sometimes have devastating effects, as they did in the Flood of 1964.

Referred to as central Vietnam's worst flood of the 20th century, the deluge took place from November 7-13, 1964, according to Mot The Gioi, and resulted in the deaths of some 6,000 people.

On November 7, heavy rains began to fall across Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tin, a former province of southern Vietnam, adding to the inundation from previous downpours. By the following day, “heaven fell to earth”, writes the online newspaper. Homes began to flood, water levels rose at an alarming rate and the people residing near the Thu Bon and Vu Gia Rivers were put in grave danger.

According to Mot The Gioi, Secretary Pham Khoi of Quang Nam's Provincial Party claimed Giang Hoa village, population 480, lost a staggering 400 of its residents before a landslide wiped out the village altogether. In another village, Quang Nam's Dong An, only 19 people survived the deluge, including Luong Man, who was only rescued after floodwaters swept Man 100 kilometers away, reports Nguoi Lao Dong. Of the 14 people who lived in Man's house at the time, 10 were lost.

According to survey data presented by the government at the time, water levels in some areas reach as high as 22.16 meters. In each of the affected provinces, casualties registered in the thousands, houses were destroyed and 80-100% of crops were damaged.

As you might imagine, rescue operations were scarce at the time, as central Vietnam in 1964 had little infrastructure with which to handle such a disaster. Once the flooding subsided and small, localized rescue efforts were able to take place, neighbors banded together to help one another however the destruction was staggering.

“As soon as the flooding receded, we quickly went to the area to help everyone,” rescue team member Nguyen Quoc Dung told Nguoi Lao Dong. “Across all the villages – Thach Bich, Binh Yen, Ti, Se, Dui Chieng – we saw unprecedented desolation, worse than the destruction of an American B52 bomber.”

[Photo via Flickr user manhhai]

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