‘Inexperienced’ south braces for Typhoon Tembin

December 24, 2017 - 23:20

As Typhoon Tembin approaches the mainland, “inexperienced” localities in the south, which rarely face heavy storms, are actively preparing for worst case scenarios.

Authorities of Phú Quốc island district in the southern province of Kiên Giang have inspected the anchoring of vessels and asked all vessels currently at sea to seek shelter immediately. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Sen
Viet Nam News

SOUTHERN REGION —  As Typhoon Tembin approaches the mainland, “inexperienced” localities in the south, which rarely face heavy storms, are actively preparing for worst case scenarios.

These include mass evacuations, closure of schools and businesses, and strict bans on fishing vessels venturing out to sea.

Agriculture Minister Nguyễn Xuân Cường, head of the National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention, Search and Rescue, has warned that Tembin is the most powerful ‘late season storm’ to ever enter Vietnamese waters.

The committee, in its meeting on Saturday, noted that local people and authorities of southern provinces were in general “inexperienced” in dealing with powerful storms, and the region’s infrastructure was not designed to be storm-resistant, but this time, “serious efforts must be expended to be ready for the storm.”

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc yesterday issued a dispatch, asking localities and agencies not to be “complacent” and “avoid past mistakes.”

Experts have said that losses inflicted by the recent typhoon Damrey and the 1997 Linda typhoon would not have been so tragic had people heeded warnings and made proper preparations.

Local preparations

In the Mekong Delta’s Cần Thơ City, authorities have urged localities seen as vulnerable to evacuate residents to safe places.

Typhoon Tembin, the 16th tropical storm to enter the East Sea this year, is likely to force over 137,000 people in Cần Thơ to relocate. Significant damage to infrastructure and crops is also foreseen.

Typhoon Tembin, which landed in the Philippines on December 23, killing 200 people and leaving dozens of others missing, is forecast to also impact a number of other Mekong Delta localities. 

At 4pm on December 24, the storm’s centre was 120km east of Việt Nam’s Trường Sa Lớn island, the fourth largest one in the Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago, with sustained wind speeds of 115-135km per hour.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting (NCHMF), in the next 24 hours, the storm will head fast westward at 25km per hour, causing strong waves that can seriously threaten infrastructure on the Spratly Archipelago.

At 10am of December 25, the storm’s centre can be expected at about 220km east of Côn Đảo Island, off the waters of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province. Strongest wind speeds may reach 115-135 km per hour.

On Saturday, leaders of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province inspected preparatory work at local coastal localities including Vũng Tàu City and the districts of Long Điền, Đất Đỏ and Xuyên Mộc.

According to the Vũng Tàu People’s Committee, 49 ships with 362 crew on board are currently operating at sea. All of them have been updated about the storm’s developments and advised to seek shelter immediately.

The city has set up two evacuation plans for 16,500 households with 36,752 people.

Meanwhile, the southernmost province of Cà Mau has banned all fishing vessels from leaving the shore as of 16:00 on December 23. Authorities have contacted 862 fishing boats operating at sea, including 372 offshore fishing vessels, and asked them to find shelter. So far, 743 vessels have docked in safe ports.

The provincial People’s Committee also asked agencies, departments and localities to call on locals to reinforce their houses and production facilities so as to minimise losses.

As many as 250,000 students and teachers in Cà Mau Province, including tens of thousands in coastal localities, have been allowed to stay at home on December 25-26, just in case typhoon hits the province.

Similarly, HCM City’s coastal district of Cần Giờ has also shut down schools on December 25-26 and directed nearly 1100 vessels to safely anchor at ports. Preparations have been made to evacuate 5,000 people living in unsafe houses to schools, culture centres, and government buildings in the worst case scenarios.

HCM City authorities have also directed the city’s power utility to ensure continuous supply of power during and after the storm.

On December 24, the People’s Committee of Đồng Tháp Province convened an urgent meeting with 12 localities to launch plans to cope with the storm. Committee Chairman Nguyễn Văn Dương has asked the localities to update locals on storm developments, reinforce dykes and irrigation works, and promptly complete crop harvesting. 

Khương Lê Bình, director of Đồng Tháp’s weather agency, said that when the typhoon makes landfall, localities from Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu to Cà Mau will be directly affected.

The People’s Committee of Bạc Liêu Province started relocating locals from risky places on Saturday. Bạc Liêu plans to move over 85,000 households with 365,700 people in 31,000 vulnerable locations.

More than 12,000 people and 24,000 vehicles have been mobilised. The province has also applied measures to protect 33,000 hectares of rice-shrimp farms, 46,000 hectares of rice fields and 76,000 hectares of aquaculture farms.

Bạc Liêu has 1,232 fishing vessels, of which 177 are operating at sea and heading to the port.

In Tây Ninh province, locals residing around Dầu Tiếng Lake, Sài Gòn and Vàm Cỏ rivers have been asked to move to safer places and reinforce their houses.

Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast in Tây Ninh for December 25-26.

Earlier, on Friday, the central province of Bình Thuận banned fishing vessels from going to sea from 16:00. The 252 vessels with 1,875 people on board operating at sea on Friday have been informed of the storm and asked to seek safe shelters.

Emergency meeting

Yesterday PM Phúc also chaired an online meeting with leaders of southern localities expected to be affected by the typhoon Tembin.

PM Phúc demanded that the authorities quickly guide farmers to harvest their crops early and take ‘forceful measures’ to prevent fishing vessels from violating the sea travel ban before and during the storm.

According to the national steering committee, all localities have issued a ban on fishing activities starting December 23.

Four provinces and cities have reported their progress on evacuation and 13,564 people out of 853,604 residents in the high-risk areas in the nine southern provinces have been relocated.

However, the Prime Minister ordered that some sections of sea dykes stretching 276 km along the 774 km of the southern coast need to be watched carefully as they were recently consolidated to guard only against weaker storms with lower waves. Twenty-three ‘critical’ points have been identified from Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu to Cà Mau Province. — VNS