Deadly Vietnam Flood Claims 44 Lives

Much of Vietnam's capital remained under water Sunday as the death toll from the city's worst flooding in two decades climbed to 17, disaster officials and state media reported.

Floods caused by heavy rain have killed at least 44 people across northern and central Vietnam in the past week and sent food prices skyrocketing in Hanoi as much of the capital's transportation system ground to a standstill.

Rain had stopped falling by Sunday morning and waters were receding in Hanoi, but many of the city's streets remained submerged under up to three feet (a meter) of water.

"I had to stay in my office for two days because I did not want to swim home in dirty water. It is a total nightmare," said Nguyen Ngoc Khiem, 29, a businessman.

More rain was expected in the city in the next few days, according to the national forecaster.

With the vast Mekong River delta in the south and many lakes and rivers throughout the country, Vietnam is prone to floods, which kill hundreds each year. However, this week's floods were the worst to hit the capital in more than 20 years.

Thirteen more bodies were recovered in Hanoi on Saturday, bringing the city's death toll from the floods to 17, the VietNamNet news Web site quoted police as saying. One person was reported missing.

Three people were washed away Friday in the northern provinces of Hoa Binh and Phu Tho, disaster officials said. Two were reported missing in Vinh Phuc province.

In central Vietnam, the death toll from a week of flooding stood at 24, with one person missing.

"Water levels are lower now after a week of inundating thousands of homes. People have begun to return to their homes," said Nguyen Van Vinh, an official in the central province of Nghe An, where 12 people were killed including four children who were swept away while walking home from school.

Authorities in the region are rushing food and medicine to villagers in the area, Vinh said.