Phu Quy Island hit by heavy rains as storm Usagi gets close

By Huu Nguyen, Phuoc Tuan   November 23, 2018 | 08:52 pm PT
Phu Quy Island hit by heavy rains as storm Usagi gets close
The forecast route of the storm is shown by Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Heavy rains lashed Phu Quy Island Saturday morning, hours before storm Usagi was forecast to hit the Vietnam’s southern coast.

Instead of moving westwards as forecast earlier, Usagi, the ninth storm of the year to form off the Vietnamese coast, has changed course and is now heading south.

Nguyen Van Linh, Vice Chairman of Phu Quy District in the south-central province of Binh Thuan, confirmed that the island has been hit by heavy rains accompanied with gusty winds since early Saturday morning.

No casualties or damage have been reported so far.

As of Saturday morning, the center of the storm was around 110 kilometers (68 miles) to the east of Phu Quy Island and only around 300 kilometers from the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, with maximum speeds of 100 kilometers per hour.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau, home to the popular beach town Vung Tau, lies next to HCMC.

Over the next 12 hours it is expected to move west-southwest at 10-15 kilometers an hour, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the storm will be off the coast of central and southern provinces from Ninh Thuan to Ben Tre, sustaining wind speeds of 75 to 100 kilometers per hour.

It is expected to continue moving westwards and make landfall in south-central region at 4 a.m. on Sunday with wind speeds of 60 kilometers per hour before devolving into a tropical depression.

Ho Chi Minh City, which was expected to be directly affected by the storm, should expect heavy rainfalls of up to 250 millimeters from Saturday afternoon onwards and dozens of streets to be flooded, weather experts have said.

Weather stations in Hong Kong have predicted that the storm is projected to hit the coast off Vung Tau beach town and Can Gio coastal district before making landfall in the adjacent area between Long An and HCMC.

Due to the effects of the tropical storm, rough water and six-meter-high waves are expected off the south central and southern coast.

Central provinces from Thua Thien-Hue to Binh Thuan and the Central Highlands, home to popular resort towns Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Da Lat, are likely to be battered by rains of up to 500 millimeters while southern provinces can expect up to 200mm.

Warnings of floods and landslides have been issued.

Storm preparations

On Saturday morning, authorities in HCMC's Can Gio ordered a mass evacuation of more than 4,100 residents to safer areas.

Authorities in Can Gio District evacuate local residents to safer areas on Saturday morning to avoid Storm Usagi. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen 

Authorities in Can Gio District evacuate local residents to safer areas on Saturday morning to mitigate storm Usagi’s impacts. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

All schools in the district have been asked to let students stay home on Saturday, and all extracurricular activities have been cancelled.

The HCMC Department of Education and Training has instructed all schools in the inner city to close from 12 p.m. Saturday.

Storm Usagi comes a week after heavy rains from Typhoon Toraji triggered landslides that killed at least 20 people in the south central resort town Nha Trang.

Weather forecasters in Vietnam have warned another four to six typhoons and tropical depressions could develop off the country's east coast from now until the end of the year. Half of them would make landfall in and batter Vietnam’s central region, they said.

A record number of 16 tropical storms hit Vietnam last year, killing 389 people and injuring 668 others, mostly in the northern and central regions. The General Statistics Office estimated damage at around VND60 trillion ($2.64 billion), 1.5 times the previous year’s figure.

In the first 10 months of this year natural disasters left 185 people dead or missing and injured 134 others, and caused losses of more than VND8.8 trillion ($381 million).

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