Saigon, neighbors batten down the hatches as unusual, forceful year-end typhoon looms

By Staff reporters   December 23, 2017 | 03:32 pm GMT+7
Saigon, neighbors batten down the hatches as unusual, forceful year-end typhoon looms
Workers clean up messes left by a thunderstorm in Saigon in November. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

'A year-end storm comes once in a decade, but a strong one like Tembin is the first.'

Typhoon Tembin is heading to Vietnam carrying winds of 135 kilometers (84 miles) per hour, and is forecast to directly affect Saigon and its southern neighbors in what will be the country’s first December storm disaster in years.

The typhoon is moving northwest from the Philippines and is forecast to enter the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, on Saturday night and become the 16th tropical storm to hit the waters this year.

On Monday morning, it will be raging around 300 kilometers to the east of the southern coastline from Ba Ria-Vung Tau to Ca Mau provinces, which includes Saigon.

The city and its neighbors should expect Christmas downpours before the typhoon makes landfall on Tuesday night, according to weather forecasts.

Saigon and other places expecting the next storm, including most of the Mekong Delta, have prepared to evacuate nearly one million people from vulnerable areas, officials said at an emergency meeting on Saturday.

Vietnam's storm season usually ends in November and weather forecasts have called the upcoming Tembin a “very rare” one.

Hoang Duc Cuong, director of the National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting, said: "A year-end storm comes once in a decade, but a strong one like Tembin is the first."

An artist impression shows how Storm Tembin is going to cause downpours in Saigon, Vung Tau and rest of the southern coast.

An artist impression shows how Storm Tembin is going to cause downpours in Saigon, Vung Tau and rest of the southern coast.

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.

Tran Quang Hoai, director of the National Department of Natural Disasters Prevention and Control, said the region's lack of experience will increase risks with the coming typhoon.

Hoai said there could be a similar scenario to Typhoon Damrey, which hit the usually gentle Nha Trang in the central coast and its neighbors in November, leaving 108 people dead or missing and causing $1 billion  in damage. Officials have blamed the heavy destruction on the near-total lack of experience and preparation.

Flooding and storms left 390 people dead or missing in Vietnam in the first 11 months of the year, and caused damage worth around VND52.2 trillion ($2.34 billion), according to the General Statistics Office.

The toll surpassed last year’s losses, when disasters killed 264 people and caused nearly VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion) in damage.

 
 
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