27 dead as Typhoon Damrey batters Vietnam
HANOI – At least 27 people have died and nearly two dozen are missing after Typhoon Damrey barrelled into Vietnam, authorities said Sunday, damaging tens of thousands of homes and submerging highways days before the country welcomes world leaders to the APEC summit.
The storm, which made landfall on Saturday, is the worst in decades to strike the country’s southern coastal region, an area normally spared the typhoons that usually hit further north.
More than 40,000 homes were damaged as heavy rains and 130 kph (80 mph) winds tore through the area, leaving 27 dead and 22 reported missing, according to the disaster management office.
Coastal Khanh Hoa province, home to the popular white sand Nha Trang beach, was hardest hit with 16 dead and 10 injured, the government said.
More than 30,000 people, including foreign tourists, were evacuated from the area ahead of the storm.
Photos showed residents wading through knee-deep floodwater, as toppled electricity poles and trees blocked roads.
Some 300 ships were wrecked, according to the government, while local authorities said Phu Yen province’s Tuy Hoa city had never suffered such devastation before.
There were also reports of minor damage around 500 kilometres north in Danang, the coastal city which will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next weekend.
A local resident told AFP strong winds and rain had torn down signs promoting the APEC gathering, which will bring together leaders including US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.
It will be Trump’s first visit as president to the Southeast Asian nation.
“Now city people are joining hands with authorities to clean up the mess to make the city look nicer for the APEC week,” said Tran Huy, as dark clouds loomed above.
An hour’s drive south in Hoi An, an atmospheric port city and popular stop on Vietnam’s tourist circuit, a local resident said floodwater was up to 1.5 metres in some parts of town.
“Water has started to rise in the Old Quarter,” resident Dinh Thi Xuan Hoa told the state-run VNExpress, referring to a section of the city recognised as a World Heritage site for its architecture.
“Foreign tourists were transferred by boats to hotels in higher area,” she added.
The spouses of some APEC leaders are scheduled to pay a visit to Hoi An next week, according to the culture ministry.
Vietnam has been pummelled by a dozen major storms since the start of 2017, with at least 240 people reported dead or missing in floods and landslides.
Some 80 were killed in the weeks after Typhoon Doksuri battered central provinces in September, destroying thousands of homes and triggering severe floods.
The World Bank said natural disasters have killed more than 13,000 people and caused more than $6.4 billion in property damage to Vietnam over the past two decades.