Vietnam on high alert as tropical storm approaches south central region

By Ba Do, Xuan Ngoc   November 22, 2018 | 03:58 am PT
Vietnam on high alert as tropical storm approaches south central region
A man struggles on a road in central Vietnam's Nha Trang as storm Toraji triggered heavy rains last weekend. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc
A tropical depression off the Philippines has strengthened into a storm that could make landfall Saturday in central Vietnam.

The agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong has warned that the storm could prove "very dangerous."

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, the ninth storm of the year to threaten Vietnam was around 130 kilometers (81 miles) to the east of Southwest Cay Island in the Spratly Archipelago, carrying maximum wind speeds of 60 kilometers per hour.

On Friday afternoon, the center of the storm is likely to be around 340 kilometers off the coast of central provinces from Binh Dinh to Binh Thuan with maximum wind speeds of 100 kilometers per hour.

Hoang Van Cuong, director of the Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said both Vietnamese and international weather stations predict that there’s a very high chance of the storm directly affecting southern and central provinces as it makes landfall in Vietnam on Saturday, November 24.

Southern and central provinces have been told to expect heavy rainfall of up to 600mm from November 24 to 26. Rainfall from 180mm a day is considered heavy.

Storm preparations

Officials said at a meeting Thursday that authorities should take urgent measures to ensure safety of residents and tourists in areas likely to be hit.

Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong, head of the national disaster prevention committee, said the storm has been projected to become more ferocious after making landfall. He asked leaders from the central province of Quang Ngai to the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and the Central Highlands region to be careful and make due preparations. Popular tourist destinations Da Lat, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Vung Tau should brace for more severe impacts while preparations were also recommended for Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang.

The storms route as forecasted by the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting on Thursday.

The storm's route as forecasted by the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting on Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on Thursday worked with the Steering Committee for Flood Prevention to initiate urgent measures to cope with the storm and prevent loss of life and damage to property.

Government agencies have been asked to stay in contact with fishing boats in their jurisdiction as a precaution and work to ensure safety of residents in storm-hit areas.

Mass evacuations planned

HCMC authorities are preparing to evacuate vulnerable residents to safety as the storm approaches.

Authorities in the coastal district of Can Gio are planning to evacuate 4,000 people to safe areas and prepare daily necessities to sustain them.

The central province of Khanh Hoa, whose resort town Nha Trang was badly hit by torrential rains and landslides triggered by storm Toraji last weekend that killed at least 19 people, is considering evacuating 280,000 residents from dangerous areas.

Weather forecasters in Vietnam have predicted that four to six typhoons and tropical depressions could develop off the country's east coast from now until the end of the year. Around two to three storms will make landfall in Vietnam and batter the central region, they said.

A record-breaking 16 tropical storms hit Vietnam in 2017, leaving 389 people dead or missing and injuring 668 others, mostly in 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 ten 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), according to the General Statistics Office.

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