Deadly typhoon Tembin weakens, but Vietnam remains wary

By Huu Nguyen   December 24, 2017 | 11:20 pm PT
Winds are expected to slow down to 75 kph upon making landfall, but forecasters warn at-risk residents against relaxing vigilance.

Typhoon Tembin weakened on its way to southern Vietnam on Monday, as mass evacuation of storm-prone communities has been underway since Sunday.

According to different weather reports, the typhoon was raging off Vung Tau beach town neighboring Saigon at 10 a.m., carrying winds of 115 kilometers per hour, down from 135 kph at 5 a.m.

Wind power is expected to continue weakening to 75 kph after making landfall, said a source from the National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting. 

“But there will still be serious risks given the lack of experience of southern people,” the source said.

Southern Vietnam is rarely hit by stormy weather, but the memory of Typhoon Linda, which struck 20 years ago leaving more than 3,000 people dead or missing, lingers on. The storm is considered one of the worst disasters to hit Vietnam in the past century.

Tembin has been traveling on a similar route and is forecast to enter the waters off the southernmost provinces Ca Mau and Kien Giang on Tuesday morning.

Earlier forecasts said it would make landfall in Ca Mau late Monday, but the latest updates said it might be moving a little bit to the south and will not directly affect the province.

Hundreds of thousands of residents in Ca Mau and in neighboring provinces have been evacuated.

People sail to a safer place away from Tembins expected landfall in Ca Mau Province. Photo by VnExpress/Phuc Hung

People sail to safer grounds as deadly Tembin is expected to make landfall in Ca Mau Province. Photo by VnExpress/Phuc Hung

Officials said even of the storm continues to weaken, the entire southern region including Saigon should expect heavy rainfall of up to 200 mm through Tuesday at least.

Vietnamese officials earlier have expressed serious concerns about Tembin, which has left at least 200 people dead in the Philippines.

They said a year-end storm is rare, which comes only once in a decade, but a strong one like Tembin is the first.

The storm is the 16th entering in the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea, this year, breaking the record of storms hitting the country in a year.

Before Tembin, flooding and storms already left 390 people dead or missing in Vietnam in the first 11 months of this year, causing damage totaling around VND52.2 trillion ($2.34 billion), according to the General Statistics Office.

Poor forecasting and preparations have been blamed as part of the reasons for the heavy toll, which surpassed last year’s losses of 264 people and nearly VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion) worth of damage.

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