HANOI: Eleven soldiers are dead and a frantic search is under way for 11 others after a huge landslide hit Vietnam's central province of Quang Tri on Sunday (Oct 18), in what could be the largest military loss in peace time as the country battles the worst flooding in years.
Intense rainfall since early October has caused floods and mudslides that have killed more than 70 people in central Vietnam, with more heavy rain expected over the next few days.
The landslide hit the barracks of a unit of Vietnam's 4th Military Region, the government said in a statement on its website, days after another landslide killed 13 people, mostly soldiers, in the neighbouring province of Thua Thien Hue.
"We had another sleepless night," an emotional deputy defence minister, Phan Van Giang, told reporters on Sunday.
"From 2am, there have been four to five landslides, exploding like bombs and it feels like the whole mountain is about to collapse," said local official Ha Ngoc Duong, according to the VnExpress news site.
Eleven bodies have been recovered so far, the government said.
"We've never lost so many military members, including two generals and high ranking officials, in natural disasters," the Vietnamese government said in a Facebook post.
Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang, the army's chief of general staff, warned there could be further landslides in the area and said rescuers needed to find a safer way to access the site.
State media on Sunday reported rivers in Quang Tri province rose to the highest water levels in over 20 years.
In Thua Thien Hue province, rescuers battled driving rain in search of at least 15 construction workers missing after a landslide at the start of the week in a mountainous area.
Rain of as much as 600mm is likely to continue in parts of central Vietnam until Wednesday, the country's weather agency said on Sunday.