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Drought, saline intrusion cost Vietnam 287 mln USD in 4 months: statistics

HANOI, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Drought and saline intrusion in Vietnam have cost the country nearly 6.4 trillion Vietnamese dong (some 287 million U.S. dollars) in the first four months of 2016, according to Vietnam's General Statistics Office on Thursday.

The statistics office said on its website that the drought and saline intrusion in Vietnam's south central region, central highlands and southern Mekong Delta remain complicated.

As of April 24, 2016, as many as 15 Vietnamese provinces and cities declared the state of emergency due to drought and saline intrusion.

Earlier on Tuesday, Vietnam appealed to the international community for a 48.5-million-U.S. dollar emergency plan to address the worsening El Nino drought.

A recent joint rapid assessment, undertaken by the Vietnamese government, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in March estimated that in the 18 most severely affected provinces in Vietnam, as many as 2 million people are without access to water and 1.1 million in need of food aid.

More than 60,000 women and children are already malnourished, and as many as 1.75 million people have lost livelihoods as a result of the worsening situation.

Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said on Tuesday that the increase of water discharge from a Chinese dam will help mitigate the drought and saline intrusion situation in some areas in Vietnam's Mekong Delta.

China has increased the volume of water discharge from Jinghong Hydropower Station in southwest China's Yunnan Province to the lower Mekong River.

Phat said water levels in the Mekong River rose in the first half of April when China started releasing water from March 15 to April 10, helping ease saltwater intrusion. However, after that, water soon receded and saline encroachment got worse.

The minister said that water released from Jinghong dam at 1, 500 cubic meters per second from April 21 is expected to reach Vietnam in about 18 to 20 days. The water discharge this time will be maintained until May 31.

In Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta, the drought and decrease in groundwater levels have resulted in the most extensive saltwater intrusion in 90 years, the worst since records began.

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