5 dead as Typhoon Wutip batters Vietnam

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Typhoon Wutip left a trail of destruction with at least five people dead, dozens of fishermen missing in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, and thousands of homes damaged in Vietnam, authorities said Tuesday.


Roads were flooded, sea dykes damaged and power lines torn up along Vietnam's central coast, including in top tourist attractions such as the World Heritage Site of Hoi An and the ancient capital of Hue.


In Hoi An, an old trading port known for its traditional wooden architecture, streets around the river were under water although the main tourist districts were not affected, city officials said.


Flooding was also reported in Hue and authorities warned there could be more rain coming.


High winds tore the roofs off around 95,000 houses and tens of thousands of hectares of crops were destroyed after Typhoon Wutip -- packing winds of up to 103 kilometers (64 miles) an hour -- hit the Vietnam late Monday, authorities said.


At least three people were killed in central Vietnam, while China's Xinhua news agency said the bodies of two fishermen were found and 58 others were missing after three Chinese boats sank in rough seas.


Fourteen survivors were found after Beijing launched a rescue operation on Monday involving navy warships and aircraft, Xinhua said.


Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung put local authorities on high alert for flash floods and landslides in the aftermath of the typhoon as officials battled to clear up the worst of the damage.


By early Tuesday the typhoon had weakened to a tropical depression and moved over neighbouring Laos, Vietnamese meteorologists said.


Two people were killed in Vietnam's north-central Quang Binh Province after strong winds toppled a radio station antenna as the storm hit on Monday, the country's flood and storm control department said.


A 40-year-old man was killed after being buried under a collapsed wall, the department added.

State media earlier reported that a 14-year-old boy died in Quang Binh rovince after falling from a roof, but there was no official confirmation.

Up to 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rain fell on Vietnam from Friday to Monday, the flood department said.

"Some provincial and district roads are still impassable," said Nguyen Huu Hoai, chairman of the Quang Binh provincial committee.

Parts of the affected area were still without power after high winds tore up electricity pylons and disrupted supply, state media reported.

The army has been mobilized to help deal with the devastation, said Colonel Nguyen Van Phuc, head of Quang Binh provincial border military department.

No official estimate of the potential cost of storm damage was available Tuesday.

More than 106,000 people had been evacuated from high-risk coastal areas ahead of the storm, officials said.

Vietnam is hit by an average of eight to 10 tropical storms every year, which often cause heavy material and human losses.

In recent weeks floods have killed at least 24 people in Vietnam and claimed at least 30 lives in Cambodia as well as 23 in Thailand, which was bracing for heavy downpours Tuesday as Wutip moved inland.


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