Vietnam closes airports, bans sailing as storm Matmo near

By Pham Linh, Xuan Ngoc, Viet Quoc   October 30, 2019 | 01:54 am PT
Vietnam closes airports, bans sailing as storm Matmo near
A man puts sandbags on his roof to prevent it from being blown off as storm Matmo approaches Nha Trang beach town in Khanh Hoa Province, October 30, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc.
With Storm Matmo set to make landfall in central coastal provinces Wednesday night, Vietnamese authorities are preparing to mitigate its impact.

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the center of the tropical storm lay around 200 kilometers (124 miles) to the east of central provinces Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa, carrying maximum wind speeds of 90 kph, according to National Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center.

Until 7 p.m. the storm is forecast to skirt central provinces Quang Ngai to Khanh Hoa, home to the popular resort town of Nha Trang and continue moving west across the mainland before weakening into a tropical low.

Rainfall of 300-600 mm should be expected in central provinces Thua Thien-Hue to Ninh Thuan and the Central Highlands on Wednesday and Thursday, the weather forecast center said. Rainfall of 180 mm a day is considered heavy.

Authorities in Khanh Hoa Province asked fishing boats and tourist ships to move to safer areas. On Nha Trang beach, one of the most visited tourist destinations in central Vietnam, local authorities increased patrols and put up warning signs to alert tourists not to swim in rough seas.

Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa allowed students to stay home until Thursday and all extracurricular activities have been canceled.

Phu Cat, Tuy Hoa and Cam Ranh airports in the central region are now closed until Thursday morning to avoid the impact of the tropical storm. Cam Ranh is an international airport, one of the largest in Vietnam.

Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific have announced the cancellation of many flights between HCMC and Hanoi to tourist destinations like Nha Trang, Phu Yen and Quy Nhon in central Vietnam and Da Lat, Pleiku and Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands.

Storm-hit provinces such as Phu Yen, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh have ordered mass evacuation of fishing boats, fish cages and watch towers to safer areas and banned ships and fishing boats from sailing.

According to Border Guard Command statistics, there are still more than 550 boats operating in the area affected by the storm and authorities are calling for them to seek shelter.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Hoang Hiep said the storm-affected area is home to economic zones and beach towns offering vibrant sea tourism services. Therefore, it’s necessary to draw up thoughtful response plans.

"The localities should pay special attention to ensuring tourist safety, especially foreigners," he stressed.

Satellite image shows a tropical storm brewing off central Vietnam, October 30, 2019. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

Satellite image shows storm Matmo off south central Vietnam, October 30, 2019. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

Japan Meteorological Agency has also forecast the storm would close in on Vietnam’s south central shore on Wednesday with wind speeds of around 83 kph. Hong Kong Observatory predicted it would form a low-pressure area over Cambodia on Thursday.

In an urgent statement released Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung requested local authorities across all provinces in the affected area to issue sailing bans and evacuation plans.

Vietnam is hit by up to 10 tropical storms during the monsoon season, between July and October.

The country was struck by nine storms last year. Storm Podul hit central provinces in August, killing six people.

go to top