x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Storm that flooded Philippines lashes Vietnam

More than 100,000 people in Vietnam are fleeing the path of Typhoon Ketsana as it arrives from the Philippines

The storm that brought heavy flooding to the Philippines, now upgraded to a typhoon, has battered Vietnam, bringing widespread power outages, tearing down trees and sending more than 100,000 people fleeing its path. Central Vietnam was braced for the full impact of Typhoon Ketsana after, as a weaker storm, it had killed at least 240 people and rendered nearly 400,000 homeless in the Philippines at the weekend.

Heavy rains and strong winds lashed Thua Thien Hue province surrounding the tourist centre of Hue, where the front doors of many homes were fortified with wood, and the roofs had been sandbagged. Few people were on the streets. About 80 kilometres south in Danang, another tourist centre and the country's fourth-largest city, government television showed trees toppled onto roads and corrugated metal and other debris tossed around.

At 0400 GMT Typhoon Ketsana was centred about 140 kilometres south-east of Danang and was forecast to move west at about 12 kilometres an hour towards central Vietnam, the Hong Kong Observatory said. Authorities mobilised several thousand military personnel and police to help residents out of the typhoon's path, said Nguyen The Hung of the national flood and storm control committee. He said more than 100,000 residents had been evacuated.

The aid organisation World Vision said some people had been taken to shelter in schools. "We have already distributed noodle packs to 700 families," said Le Van Duong of World Vision, who is based in Danang. "The government has shut down airports, schools and power as part of its early warning procedures in the Danang areas," World Vision said. State radio also reported that electricity in the region was out.

Mr Hung said most fishing vessels had returned to port in the area, which is a centre of Vietnam's fishing industry. On Monday, Vietnam Airlines said it was suspending flights to Hue and Danang. "Serious flooding" was feared and residents who had not left their homes should stay indoors and avoid all non-essential travel, Mr Hung said. Stormy weather in the past week has already killed 18 people in central Vietnam, with the causes of death including drowning, electrocution and accidents, he said.