Floods have killed at least 32 people in central Vietnam, displacing thousands and cutting the

north-south railway, officials said on Wednesday.

The floods triggered by a storm that weakened into a depression since the weekend have isolated many areas from emergency aid, said an official in Quang Binh province.

Quang Binh is the hardest-hit of the central coastal provinces with about 40,000 houses submerged.

The government said overall more than 48,000 homes and 65,700 hectares (162,300 acres) of crops were under water.

"Communications have been cut off, mobile phones to many areas no longer work, so we are still unable to assess the casualties," the provincial Floods and Storm Prevention Committee official said.

The Gianh river was rising in Quang Binh, 490 km (300 miles) south of Hanoi, while floods damaged at least six sections of the north-south railway, halting all trains, he said.

In Ha Tinh province, north of Quang Binh, lightning killed three people and four drowned.

But most of the deaths were in the Central Highlands coffee belt where flash floods swept away people, houses and rice and corn crops, the government said in its daily disaster report.

"I have been working here for more than 20 years, but this is the first time I saw such frightening floods," a commune official was quoted by the Tuoi Tre newspaper as saying from Easup district in the highland province of Daklak.

Eleven people were killed in Daklak, nine were missing in floods and more than 30,000 were forced from their inundated homes, the government report said.

Daklak produces one third of Vietnam's coffee, but only 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres), or less than 1 percent of its coffee area, has been damaged by floods.

The Central Highlands coffee crop was not at risk and rains helped green coffee cherries develop before the harvesting starts in late October, traders said.

Tropical storms and typhoons often strike Vietnam from August to October. Last year, 10 storms hit the country and about 500 people were killed by floods and landslides, the government said.