The Mekong Delta: an unsettling portrait of coastal collapse

Some environmental disasters present themselves over years; others come with a bang — or a splash. The latter happened one day in August, when residents of Binh My, a commune in Vietnam’s lush Mekong Delta, heard a loud cracking sound. They went outside to watch a 30-metre-long chunk of the highway that runs alongside their houses collapse into the river as the asphalt gave way.  One of Asia’s biggest wetlands is subsiding into the sea, the result in part of rising sea levels created by climate change.  But when asked what caused the collapse, a local farmer who gave his name as Bo points to a crane mounted on a boat mid-river — about a kilometre away — that is mining sand. “They are making the bed of the river deeper and deeper,” he says, miming a scooping action.

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John Reed