Nesat weakens to tropical storm, makes landfall in northern Vietnam

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Nesat was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday as it moved west into northern Vietnam after battering southern China with gale force winds and torrential rain.

The storm made land in northern Vietnam's Quang Ninh province at 11:30 a.m. Beijing time, with winds as fast as 108 kilometers (67 miles) an hour, the China Meteorological Administration said. Nesat damaged 300 houses, sunk 11 boats, flooded 1,600 hectares of rice fields and prompted the evacuation of 2,000 people in Vietnam, Xinhua said, citing local authorities. No casualties were reported, and damage during the first three hours was estimated at $2.4 million, the agency said.

As it swept past Hong Kong Sept. 29, Nesat felled trees, ripped bamboo scaffolding from buildings and forced the city's stock exchange to shut. It then slammed into the Chinese island province of Hainan with typhoon winds as fast as 151 kilometers an hour, forcing the evacuation of 450,000 people and causing 5.8 billion yuan ($909 million) of damage, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Nesat was the strongest typhoon to hit China this year and the strongest to strike Hainan province in six years, according to the Chinese weather agency. Authorities in Hainan ordered ships back to port, canceled ferry services and halted flights and high-speed rail services Sept. 29 ahead of the storm's arrival. Nesat, after hitting Hainan at 2:30 p.m. local time Sept. 29, made land at 9:15 p.m. in Guangdong, according to Xinhua.

National holiday

Some train services in Hainan resumed on Friday afternoon and airports in the cities of Sanya and Haikou returned to normal, China Central Television reported yesterday. More than 20,000 travelers in Hainan were affected by the storm, the state broadcaster reported.

Nesat hit the tropical province, home to resort cities such as Sanya, two days ahead of the weeklong National Day holidays that start on Saturday.

In Hong Kong, trading on the city's stock exchange resumed Friday, while most public transportation in the city had restarted by the evening of Sept. 29. All flights were normal on Friday.

The city has endured fewer tropical storms in the past two years, with seven in 2011 and 11 the previous year, compared with 28 in 2009. Typhoon Muifa caused almost 3 billion yuan ($469 million) of direct economic losses in China in August, according to Xinhua.

The Philippines on Friday raised the lowest of its weather bureau's four-scale storm alerts in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and the Babuyan Group of Islands ahead of Typhoon Nalgae. The storm was 770 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan province in the main island of Luzon as of 4 a.m. local time, with maximum winds of 130 kilometers per hour.

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