Asia reels from floods as Vietnam braces for storm

Updated: 2011-10-01 08:27

(China Daily)

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HANOI, Vietnam - A tropical storm barreled toward Vietnam on Friday, forcing 20,000 people to be evacuated, as the Philippines braced for a new typhoon and swathes of India, Thailand, Pakistan and China reeled under floods after some of the wildest weather to hit Asia this summer.

Prolonged monsoon flooding, typhoons and storms have wreaked untold havoc in the region, leaving more than 450 people dead or missing in several countries since late July. In the Indian state of Orissa alone, the damage is estimated to be worth $726 million.

After pummeling the Philippines and China this week, Typhoon Nesat was downgraded to a tropical storm as it headed toward Vietnam where it was expected to make landfall later on Friday with sustained wind speeds of up to 118 kph, according to the national weather forecasting center.

Heavy rains were reported in northern and central areas, and warnings were issued for flash floods in low-lying areas and for landslides in mountainous regions. High winds whipped through the capital Hanoi's streets.

The storm had flooded streets across the southern Chinese island of Hainan on Thursday, forcing some 300,000 people to flee their homes, Xinhua News Agency said.

On Tuesday, Nesat bashed the Philippines, where it killed at least 43 people and left 30 people missing after causing one of the worst floods in the capital in decades.

The damage was estimated at $91 million, and preparations were already under way for Typhoon Nalgae, now headed toward the northern Philippines. It's expected to reach Category 3 strength with winds hitting up to 210 kph, and make landfall late on Saturday or early on Sunday.

Disaster officials in Vietnam said fish and shrimp farmers had been moved to safe areas along the northern and central coasts. Some 4,000 people, mostly the elderly, women and children, were also evacuated in three coastal districts in Nam Dinh province, said disaster official Tran Xuan Ngoc.

The storm comes on top of seasonal flooding in Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta, where eight people were killed in four provinces this week, according to the national floods and storms control department. In addition, a woman and her grandchild were killed on Thursday when their home was buried by a landslide in the northern province of Yen Bai, it said.

Associated Press