Vietnam evacuates 90,000 ahead of typhoon Durian

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 04 Dec 2006
HANOI, Dec 4, 2006 (AFP) - Vietnam evacuated tens of thousands of people in central southern provinces Monday as typhoon Durian barrelled toward the coast after triggering a devastating mudslide in the Philippines.

The typhoon, packing winds of 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour, was expected to hit towns and tourist resorts between Binh Dinh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces later Monday, said meteorologists and officials.

Vietnam's air force dispatched planes over the South China Sea and fishing boats were ordered to return to shore, while authorities prepared for possible search and rescue missions, the Vietnam News Agency said.

Three fishermen drowned off central Phu Yen province Sunday as they were sailing for shelter from the approaching typhoon, the agency reported.

Local authorities aided by troops were Monday trying to evacuate more than 90,000 people from the region, which was less frequently hit by typhoons than central Vietnam, the national flood and storm control committee said.

"We have evacuated more than 6,800 people to safer areas like schools, churches and cultural centers," said one provincial official, Tran Minh Tien of the Ninh Thuan agriculture department.

"In some areas, we need to mobilise soldiers to help in the evacuation."

He added many people did not want to leave their homes because the weather until Monday noon had been relatively calm but warned: "From this afternoon, those who have refused to be evacuated will be forced to do so."

State television said many people in Khanh Hoa -- the province where the popular beach resort town of Nha Trang is located -- did not believe the storm was coming, having had little exposure to typhoons.

Some people went to the beach to fill sandbags to reinforce their houses, but they were mostly from northern areas of Vietnam, whose residents have greater experience with typhoons, said the report.

The evacuation order applied to parts of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung warned that "local leaders must take full responsibility if the evacuation is not complete before the typhoon arrives or if locals suffer accidents," state-run television reported.

Communist Vietnam, which in May lost scores of boats and over 240 fishermen to typhoon Chanchu, days ago barred fishing vessels from leaving harbour and warned those at sea to seek shelter to avoid the typhoon.

Central Vietnam was in October hit by typhoon Xangsane, which killed at least 70 people and brought widespread flooding and destruction.

Typhoon Durian -- which left over 1,000 dead or missing in a mudslide in the Philippines -- was expected to hit Vietnam later Monday and cross into Cambodia the following day, forecasters said.


Copyright (c) 2006 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 12/04/2006 02:02:16

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