Heavy rain pounded northern Vietnam, flooding streets in Hanoi and Hai Phong Thursday morning ahead of Typhoon Rammasun's forecasted landfall.
The typhoon will be the second to hit Vietnam this year and is expected to make landfall between Quang Binh and Thai Binh provinces this weekend after reaching its maximum hurricane strength at sea, according to the National Center for Meteorological Forecasting.
The storm has already claimed at least 38 lives in the Philippines.
China's official Xinhua news agency said Rammasun was expected to make landfall at midday on Friday somewhere between the island of Hainan and its southern province of Guangdong, according to a Reuters report. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has already put authorities on alert across a swathe of southern and southwestern China to deal with expected damage, the report said.
At 10 a.m. Thursday the typhoon was moving at 20-25 kilometers per hour through the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, commanding winds of 134-149 kph and wind gusts of more than 166 kph.
The center said the typhoon would make landfall in Vietnam after cutting through China's Hainan Island, where it is expected to weaken very slowly.
Analysts predict the typhoon will hit Vietnam with wind gusts of around 120 kph as well as 5-6 meter high waves.
Hoang Duc Cuong, the center’s director, said the heavy downpours will hit northern Vietnam at their worst this weekend, adding that waters along the northern coast are sure to be rough.
Between 200-300mm of rainfall are expected in Hanoi, Hai Phong and Thai Binh Province, while some small areas could receive as much as 350-400mm.
“Heavy rains are likely to pour for hours into the urban areas of Hai Phong and Hanoi. Anti-flooding measures need to be prepared,” Cuong said.
Heavy rain that began early on Thursday has submerged many streets in Hanoi such as Nguyen Khuyen, Minh Khai, Truong Dinh and Hang Chuoi. Motorbike commuters struggled to wade through the water or simply took to the sidewalks.
An old tree by the Sword Lake was felled.
The northern port city of Hai Phong was swamped by a thunderstorm in the afternoon, which also flooded several streets.
An annual city legislature meeting was cut short for typhoon preparations, like strengthening dykes.
Duong Anh Dien, the city mayor, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he ordered the cancellation of all administrative meetings so officials can focus on preparing for the storm. Several city leaders cancelled their official trips..
“We’ve forecasted the storm will directly hit Hai Phong, so we have to quickly prepare all preventative measures.”
Coastal districts have been asked to evacuate residents.
The owners of thousands of boats and fishing rafts have been updated on the storm's progress and the city will ban residents from going to sea on Friday, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai Thursday instructed agencies concerned to evacuate residents in flood-prone provinces from Quang Ninh to Thanh Hoa before 4 p.m. Friday (July 18).