Hmong hilltribe villagers walking amid homes destroyed by flash floods in the mountainous district of Mu Cang Chai in the northern province of Yen Bai. Image Credit: AFP

Hanoi: Floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have killed 26 people and left 15 missing in Vietnam’s mountainous north, authorities said on Monday.

Since the start of August, flash floods have caused widespread destruction in the provinces of Dien Bien, Yen Bai, Son La, Cao Bang and Lai Chau, the Hanoi-based disaster control office said in a statement.

“Twenty-six people are dead, 15 missing and 27 others were injured,” it said.

According to witnesses in Yen Bai province, floods tore through villages on Thursday night, carrying with them large boulders from the mountains.

“I told my wife, children and grandchildren to rush out to the side of the hill,” resident Pham Xuan Thanh told online newspaper Phap Luat.

“In a very short time, dozens of houses in our village were washed away.”

State media ran pictures of villages swamped by mud.

Throughout the northwestern area more than 650 houses were destroyed and damaged, hundreds of hectares of crops lost and roads broken, authorities said.

Around 235 people were reported dead and missing last year due to flooding and bad weather in Vietnam. Authorities estimated the losses at $1.7 billion (Dh6.2 billion).

Meanwhile, a weakening Typhoon Noru made landfall in central Japan on Monday, pounding some regions with more than a month’s worth of rain, but while it appeared likely to brush close to Tokyo it was losing much of its strength.

At one point the world’s strongest storm this year, Noru’s approach to the Japanese heartland prompted evacuation advisories for tens of thousands on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island, and more than 400 flights were cancelled, NHK public broadcaster said.

But there were no further deaths reported than two at the weekend, one of them a fisherman in his 80s who went out to check on his boat during the storm. No people were missing and only around a dozen injured, NHK added.

Noru, whose name is the Korean word for a type of deer, made landfall in the central prefecture of Wakayama on Wednesday afternoon and continued to head northeast, raising the possibility it could brush past Tokyo on Tuesday — although by then it will have weakened to a tropical depression.

Parts of Shikoku were hit with 52mm of rain in one hour on Monday morning, with some parts of central Japan likely to see 500mm of rain in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning due to the storm’s unusual slowness, the meteorological agency added.

“Usually typhoons just whip right on through, but this one is so slow, the rain goes on and on,” one man told NHK.

Three Japanese oil refiners said they had halted berth oil product shipments at their refineries in western and central Japan on Monday due to a typhoon, but that there had been no impact on refining operations or truck shipments.

Noru formed more than two weeks ago and wandered around the North Pacific in a circular course until it strengthened and began heading for Japan. At one point it was a Category 5 storm, but has been downgraded to a Category 1.

Noru is likely to weaken to tropical storm strength later on Monday, according to Tropical Storm Risk.com and be a tropical depression by the time it brushes past Tokyo on Tuesday.