Vietnam braces for typhoon as Philippine toll rises to 230 dead
HANOI/MANILA: Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a typhoon approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.
Typhoon Tembin is expected to slam into Vietnam late on Monday after bringing misery to the predominantly Christian Philippines just before Christmas.
Vietnam’s disaster prevention committee said 74,000 people had been moved to safety from vulnerable areas, while authorities in 15 provinces and cities were prepared to move more than 1 million.
The government ordered that oil rigs and vessels be protected and it warned that about 62,000 fishing boats should not venture out to sea.
“Vietnam must ensure the safety of its oil rigs and vessels. If necessary, close the oil rigs and evacuate workers,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying on a government website.
Schools were ordered to close in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, a working day in Vietnam.
On Sunday, Tembin hit the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, parts of which are contested by several countries, including Vietnam and China.
No casualties were reported in outposts there.
Vietnam, like the Philippines, is regularly battered by typhoons that form over the warm waters of the Pacific and barrel westwards into land.
Tembin will be the 16th major storm to hit Vietnam this year. The storms and other disasters have left 390 people dead or missing, according to official figures.
In the Philippines, rescue workers were still struggling to reach some remote areas hit by floods and landslides that Tembin’s downpours brought, as the death toll climbed to more than 230. Scores of people are missing.
The full extent of the devastation was only becoming clear as the most remote areas were being reached.
Health worker Arturo Simbajon said nearly the entire coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao island had been wiped out by a barrage of broken logs, boulders and mud that swept down a river and out to sea.
“Only the mosque was left standing,” Simbajon said.
“People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them.”
Manuel Luis Ochotorena, head of regional disaster agency, said he expected the death toll to rise.
“Many areas in Zamboanga peninsula are still without power and communications, some towns are cut off due to collapsed bridges, floods and landslides,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people on Mindanao have been displaced by the storm, which struck late on Friday.
The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.
But disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to get out coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.
In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 8,000 people and left 200,000 families homeless in the central Philippines.