Central and northern Vietnam batten down the hatches as 'unpredictable' storm looms

By Staff reporters   July 16, 2017 | 05:28 pm GMT+7
Central and northern Vietnam batten down the hatches as 'unpredictable' storm looms
Fishing vessels in the northern province of Nghe An. The story is expected to hit Nghe An, Ha Tinh, and Thanh Hoa on Monday morning. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai

Thousands of fishermen and tourists have been stranded and flights grounded as dark clouds gather.  

Thousands of Vietnamese fishermen are stranded offshore with a major tropical storm expected to hit the region on Monday morning. However, authorities say they were all given fair warning and urged to find shelter.

Local residents, seafood firms and tourism venues near coastal areas have also been warned, and residents in flood-prone areas are being asked to move their belongings and livestock to higher ground.

Torrential rains are expected to sweep through Vietnam's northern and north-central regions Monday, with rainfall of 100-300 millimeters forecast. The storm is expected to hit Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, and Ha Tinh provinces in the early hours of Monday morning.

Authorities have been told to check on reservoirs and release water where necessary, but ensure locals are informed beforehand.

“This storm is not that strong, but it's unpredictable," said Truong Duc Nghia, a senior officer from the National Committee for Search and Rescue. "The region needs to prepare carefully to avoid damage."

The upcoming storm has also grounded many flights to and from central provinces. Vietnam Airlines said its flights from Hanoi and Saigon to Vinh, the capital city of Nghe An Province, on Sunday would be rescheduled to Monday.

Budget airlines VietJet and Jetstar have also grounded their flights to and from Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, and Quang Binh on Sunday.

With the second storm of the season set to hit, nearly 500 vessels have been banned from leaving or going to Co To Island, a popular tourist destinaton off the northern province of Quang Ninh, which is also home to the world-renowned Ha Long Bay.

That has left around 3,000 tourists stranded on the island.

Local authorities are advising tourists to remain calm, and are asking hotels and other service providers to offer discounts of 30 to 50 percent, said Hoang Ba Nam, chairman of Co To District.

Minh, who runs a hotel on the island, said he has warned his guests to head inland as fast as possible, and that full refunds will be paid to anyone who is unable to travel due to the bad weather.

Last weekend, more than 5,400 tourists were trapped on the island due to the weather.