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Typhoon hits south, forces evacuations

Update: December, 05/2006 - 00:00

Typhoon hits south, forces evacuations

(05-12-2006)

Fishing vessels are brought ashore in Binh Thuan Province to avoid Typhoon Durian. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Anh
Heavy rain and strong winds hit the city of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province. —VNA/VNS Photo Tuan Anh

HA NOI — Typhoon Durian made landfall overnight at Phu Quy Island, 120km from the mainland of Binh Thuan Province, sinking nine fishing vessels and sweeping away some lobster cages. No casualities or injuries had been reported.

From yesterday morning, the typhoon brought heavy rains and strong winds to southern and central provinces yesterday evening.

Forecasters said provinces from Binh Thuan to Tra Vinh would bear the brunt of the typhoon, which has already left around a thousand dead in the Philippines.

As of 7pm yesterday, the typhoon was packing winds of up to 102km per hour. It was moving southwest at 15km per hour.

Tens of thousands in high-risk areas have already been evacuated to safer ground in numerous provinces despite the initial reluctance of many residents.

At an emergency meeting in Ha Noi yesterday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said safety for people and mitigation of human losses would be the top tasks in preparing for the typhoon.

He urged chairmen of provincial People’s Committees to rally all forces to resolutely bring people to the safe areas and dispatch officials to guard property. Localities should take initatives in preventing the flood and landslides, he said.

"Provinces in which typhoons haven’t before hit need to immediately stop underestimating the threat," Hung said, adding that local leaders would be punished for being remiss.

Hung also asked ministries and agencies to work out measures for relief aid and search and rescue and not leave any person hungry or homeless due to the typhoon.

Yesterday morning, Hung chaired a similar meeting in Ha Noi. He expressed anxiety that the southern region was rarely hit by storms, leaving local residents and authorities inexperienced in preventing natural disasters.

The problem might be compounded as there were no mountains in the region to help reduce the power of the typhoon.

Durian was expected to directly affect coastal provinces from Phu Yen to Soc Trang.

It would then move deeply into the southern Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and the south before weakening into a tropical low in the Viet Nam-Cambodia border area.

The Central Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Control said the typhoon would coincide with high tides so it could stay in the country until Wednesday morning.

Evacuation efforts

The committee directed the coastal provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Ba Ria-Vung Tau to keep evacuating people from vulnerable areas.

Fishermen were told not to stay on their vessels even though anchored or on aqua-culture farms on seas or lagoons.

Preparedness needed be completed by 8pm yesterday, including applying coercion for evacuations.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong chaired a meeting in HCM City yesterday to guide southern provinces to cope with the typhoon.

He directly called on each provincial People’s Committee chairman to do anything possible to mitigate losses to human life and property.

Later, he toured Ba Ria-Vung Tau to examine the local preparation efforts.

The Government has directed the army to use helicopters in signalling vessels at sea to drop anchor.

Numerous policemen and soldiers were dispatched to areas to help local residents.

While guiding locals to relocate in the morning, the head of the Ninh Thuan storm and flood control department, Do Huu Nghi, said anxiously that "the area has had few storms so houses have not been built firmly and people have been neglectful. Being at the centre of a typhoon, we may suffer huge losses."

Many residents were reluctant to evacuate. They believed they would not be typhoon victims as they have never witnessed a storm of this magnitude in the past 50 years, said People’s Committee chairman Hoang Thi Ut Lan.

Some 20 local fishermen refused to leave their shrimp farms. The province had to mobilise forces and facilities to compel them to move to safe shelter, Lan said.

HCM City’s officials feared that the city was likely to be hit by a flood of the scope of 1952’s historic flood.

"The whole city would be submerged," said deputy chairman of the city’s flood and storm control department, Pham Van Thang.

The outlying Can Gio District has evacuated 1,000 households.

Vessels at sea

Sr Lt Col Phan Van Quang from the Border Guard High Command said yesterday afternoon that 769 vessels with over 7,000 crew remained at sea.

Most of them had taken refuge on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratlys) Islands and some were moving to avoid the typhoon in Indonesian or Malaysian territorial waters.

Over 44,800 vessels with 833,000 fishermen were called back to shore or told to drop anchor.

The border guard also moved almost 18,800 fishermen and 73,000 shrimp cages to higher ground.

Earlier yesterday morning, high waves hit a Malaysian barge carrying 7,000cu.m of timber, running it aground off Quy Nhon City in Binh Dinh Province. Local authorities were trying to salvage the barge to avoid an oil spill at sea. Loss of timber was estimated at VND7 billion. — VNS

 

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