Troops helping local in Quang Trach district overcome flood aftermath
Reporter: Over the past time, natural disasters have caused quite a lot of losses for localities. Could you provide more information on this issue?

Major General Truong Duc Nghia: Due to climate change, the weather and meteorological and hydrographic situation in 2016 developed complicatedly, causing unexpected phenomena and great losses. Compared to previous years, apart from storms, more severe flooding hit the Central Region, long droughts in the Southern Region and the Central Highlands, salt-water intrusion in the Mekong Delta… These new and complicated weather developments caused more difficulties for the implementation of search and rescue missions. As the statistics go, 2016 experienced 2,694 accidents related to disasters (excluding traffic accidents during disasters) in the whole nation, an increase of 183 cases or up by 6.8% compared to the previous year.

Despite proactive measures and high determination in mitigating consequences, the losses of human and property were big. In details, natural disasters caused 736 deaths, 194 people missing, 755 people injured; sank 281 vehicles and damaged 319 vehicles; set fire on 1,064 production facilities; destroyed 1,272 houses ; flooded 349,966 other houses; burnt 3,374ha of forest and vegetation cover; damaged 329,441ha of crops… The economic loss is estimated to reach tens of thousands of billion dongs, significantly affecting the socio-economic development of localities.

Reporter: What have we done to mitigate losses caused by natural disasters?

Major General Truong Duc Nghia: The search and rescue work has always been paid special attention to by the Party, State and the whole political system. Over the past years, under the leadership and direction of the Government, the timely direction of the National Committee for Search and Rescue, the participation of localities, ministries, sectors, armed forces and the whole people, the work has been well implemented, contributing to mitigating losses.

The National Committee for Search and Rescue has proactively coordinated with ministries, sectors, localities in strictly and closely following developments of the situation around the clock, and collaborating closely with the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Relief to issue 44 official dispatches on the implementation of measures to cope with natural disasters and mitigate consequences. We proposed to mobilize 197,149 participating troops and 11,445 participating vehicles to deal with natural disasters.

As a result, we rescued 4,868 people (increasing by 20.37%), 289 vehicles (increasing 9.8% compared with the same period last year). 571,841 vehicles with 1,903,620 people working offshore were called to safe areas and shelters. Especially, agencies, units and localities have helped disaster-hit people overcome consequences and stabilize their production and life.

Reporter: What do you think about the military’s role in carrying out this important task?

Major General Truong Duc Nghia: Well aware of the major role in the implementation of search and rescue missions, the whole army has always been on standby  to carry out search and rescue and other tasks to mitigate losses from natural disasters . The whole army in the past year mobilized 137,706 troops, 11,102 vehicles to join 2,112 search and rescue operations, saving 4,868 lives and 289 vehicles. Military units also called and informed 571,841 boats and ships with 1,903,620 people working onboard of dangerous weather conditions and instructed them to safe shelters; helped evacuate and relocate 29,335 households from dangerous areas. Units in the Central and Southern regions actively helped people cope with drought, salt water intrusion, and lack of fresh water by providing them with 153,975m3 of water, digging 973 wells and dredging 56.7km of canals. The Ministry of National Defense also promptly provided 30 tons of dried rations to flood-hit people in the Central region. These practical and meaningful deeds have been recognized by the Party, State and people nationwide as a contribution to raising the image of Uncle Ho’s soldiers in the new period.

Besides directly participating in disaster mitigation activities, the Ministry of National Defense advised the Party and the State on the guidelines and policies related to the state management over the search and rescue work. It also directed units and localities to organize search and rescue training and exercises as well as successfully held and joined a good number of search, rescue and humanitarian relief exercises, including those participated by foreign forces, contributing to raising the prestige of Vietnam in the region and the world.

Reporter: What should we do to deal with disasters and mitigate their consequences as the stormy season is coming?

Major General Truong Duc Nghia: As forecast, due to climate change, 2017 will see more complex weather phenomena, meteorological and hydrographic developments. In order to effectively respond to disasters, we need to thoroughly and seriously implement Directive 03/CT-TTg issued by the Prime Minister on February 3, 2016 on enhancing the search and rescue work in the period of 2016-2020. Measures and plans in response to disasters should be reviewed, adjusted and supplemented to be in line with reality in each locality and with each type of disaster (storms, cyclones, tsunami, earthquakes, landslide, etc.). Dissemination of information about disasters should be conducted in various forms in order to improve the awareness and responsibility in the entire political system, especially among military political commissars, grassroots local governments and all people.

Agencies, units and localities should complete the search and rescue organizational structure, develop regulations for these units to operate, proactively prepare forces and means to coordinate with forces in accordance with the “four on-the-spot” motto while dealing with disasters. Guard duties must be maintained 24/24 hours at all levels so that the situation should always be under control, helping forces to closely coordinate and respond in a timely and effective manner as disasters occur. The quality of training and conducting exercises and mobility of specialized units should be improved. Apart from that, cooperation with other countries in the region and in the world to exchange and learn from their experience in training, management and prevention of disasters and mitigation of consequences should also be strengthened.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Reported by Vu Dan

Translated by Huu Duong