HA NOI — After barrelling into the eastern Philippines, Typhoon Nesat is making its way towards storm-battered Viet Nam, which is currently in the grip of Tropical Depression Haitang.
"Nesat is likely to be the strongest storm for years in Viet Nam, equivalent to deadly typhoon Xangsane that hit Da Nang in 2006," said Le Thanh Hai, deputy director of the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.
Typhoon Xangsane killed 72 people and caused damage worth VND10 trillion (US$630 million at the 2006 exchange rate).
Wind speeds of 149kph have been recorded, making Nesat a grade 13 hurricane on the Beaufort scale. However, wind speeds are expected to drop to 135kph (grade 12) when the weather system makes landfall in northern Viet Nam on Friday night or Saturday morning, Hai said.
"The possibility [of the typhoon making landfall] is high, about 70 per cent," he said.
After hitting Luzon Island in the Philippines yesterday morning, Nesat changed course and is now heading in a north-westerly direction.
The typhoon, which is currently churning up the East Sea, is expected to reach China's Hainan Island early on Friday before entering Vietnamese waters, according to international weather experts.
Meanwhile, strong monsoon winds are also expected to hit Viet Nam about the same time as Nesat – no bad thing in terms of wind speeds, but likely to bring torrential rain.
"If the strong monsoon winds come first, they might weaken Nesat before the typhoon makes landfall but it is too soon to say," Hai said.
The National Committee for Search and Rescue yesterday ordered local government offices to evacuate residents from low-lying areas and advise fishing vessels not to venture out to sea. Coastal authorities have also been told to ensure dykes and dams are in good condition.
Meanwhile, Storm Haitang claimed the life of a 31-year-old fisherman in Phu Yen and two others in Thua Thien-Hue before making landfall in central Viet Nam at dawn yesterday and weakening to a tropical depression.
Haitang unleashed floods, toppled trees and damaged houses in Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces and led to a number of major rivers almost breaching their banks.
Some 700 Ruc ethnic people in Quang Tri's Thuong Hoa Commune were isolated after the only road linking them with the outside world was inundated, local officials reported. — VNS