HANOI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — "Natural disasters cost Vietnam over 1 billion U.S. dollars each year," Tran Quang Hoai, deputy head of the General Irrigation Department under Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on Monday.

Hoai made the remarks at a seminar on climate change held by the United Nations (UN) in Vietnam, reported local Tuoi Tre (Youth) online newspaper.

According to the official, some 500 Vietnamese people were killed or went missing in natural disasters each year. Over the past five years, the figure has reduced to around 223 people.

However, economic loss by natural disasters remains unchanged, at over 1 billion U.S. dollars annually, said Hoai.

Nguyen Van Tue, head of Department of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said at the seminar that more and more natural disasters have been reported in Vietnam in the past few years.

"Despite being a new issue in Vietnam, climate change has increased frequency of natural disasters and requires joint effort by sectors and ministries," said Tue.

According to the UN, over 70 percent of Vietnamese population is forecast to suffer from impacts of natural disasters.

Mary Robinson, UN special envoy for El Nino and Climate, said that Vietnam has been hit and will continue to be hurt by climate change and natural disasters.

Participants at the seminar made policy recommendations in response to climate change and natural disaster mitigation, reported Tuoi Tre.