(photo credit: AP)
Vietnam — Efforts to find a bus with 19 people swept away by high waters were hampered by raging currents Tuesday in central Vietnam as the country's overall death toll from flooding and heavy rains reached 41, officials said.
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Eighteen other people on the bus swam to safety or were rescued after clinging to trees and power poles, including one who emerged later Monday. The bus was yanked off the main highway while traveling from the central highland province of Dak Nong to the northern province of Nam Dinh early Monday morning, said Phan Van Dan, a local police chief.
The bus bypassed a police roadblock diverting traffic from the highway, which was covered by up to 24 inches (60 centimeters) of water. The driver survived and was being questioned by police, Dan said.
The military was using metal detectors to search for the bus, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.
"The river's currents are very strong, making the search operations very difficult," Dan said by telephone from Ha Tinh province, where he is police chief of Nghi Xuan District.
Among the survivors were Luong Huu Thanh, 32, and his 2-year-old daughter. The father swam for two hours in the strong currents, clinging to his child before he managed to swim to safety.
"We were sleeping when the driver screamed, urging passengers to smash windows," Thanh was quoted by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying. "I held my daughter tight and got out of the bus in panic. I swam with one hand and another hand holding my daughter."
Elsewhere, in Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces, flooding has
killed 40 people while two remained missing, disaster officials said.
Another person was killed in Thua Thien Hue province from a whirlwind.
About 47 inches (120 centimeters ) of rain pounded the central region
over the past week, submerging 200,000 houses and forcing 142,000 people
to flee, according to the national floods and storms control committee.
Central Vietnam also suffered other severe flooding earlier this month that killed 66 people.
More rain was reported in some areas of the central region Tuesday,
forcing flood-waters to rise in some places. It slowly began receding in
other areas, officials said.
Forecasters predicted that Typhoon Megi, which slammed into the
Philippines on Monday, would likely hit southern China and avoid