Vietnam races to prepare devastated central region as typhoon nears

by Reuters
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 06:56 GMT

A resident gets money from a volunteer at a flooded area in Quang Binh province, Vietnam October 23, 2020. Thanh Dat/VNA via REUTERS.

Image Caption and Rights Information

By Khanh Vu

HANOI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Vietnam was rushing to ensure more than half a million people were out of harm's way on Tuesday, ahead of the arrival of a powerful typhoon set to dump more heavy rain on a central region devastated by weeks of intense weather.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and schools closed in affected areas as Typhoon Molave approached over the South China Sea, packing wind speed of up to 165 kilometres (103 miles) per hour and expected to make landfall early on Wednesday.

Molave will be the fourth storm to hit the Southeast Asian country this month, deepening a crisis in its central region that has seen 130 people killed in floods and landslides and many still missing.

State media cited the disaster agency as saying some 572,000 people would need to be evacuated by 5 p.m. (0900) on Tuesday. The government on Monday said it was preparing to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people from risky areas.

State broadcaster VTV showed footage of military helping the elderly on to buses and directing boats to come ashore, while residents and soldiers piled sandbags on roofs to secure them from the approaching strong winds.

Molave struck the Philippines at the weekend, causing flooding and landslides and killing at least three people, with 13 still missing on Tuesday, the disaster agency said.

Vietnam's prime minister has compared Molave to Typhoon Damrey, which killed more than 100 people and caused property damage of about 22 trillion dong ($949.3 million) in central Vietnam three years ago.

Molave is forecast to hit tourism infrastructure along its central beaches and the Dung Quat refinery in Quang Ngai province, with heavy rain forecast also for the coffee-growing Central Highlands.

Coffee traders said heavy rains will hamper the harvest, starts from October, and delay the drying process of the beans.

($1 = 23,174 dong)

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty)

Molave's path to prepare.

Phuc compared Molave to Typhoon Damrey, which killed more than 100 people in central Vietnam in 2017. He ordered boats ashore and told the security forces to get ready.

"Troops must deploy full force to support people, including mobilising helicopters, tanks and other means of transportation if needed," Phuc said in a statement.

About 11.8 million people in Vietnam's costal provinces are exposed to the threat of intense flooding, with 35% of settlements located on crowded and eroding coastlines, a World Bank report said last week.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Neil Jerome Morales and Enrico dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Martin Petty)

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