Typhoon Haiyan hits northern Vietnam

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Men bringing an old woman in the north-central province of Quang Tri to safe zone. Photo by Nguyen Phuc

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the world's history, has hit several northern Vietnamese provinces since early Monday morning.

Nam Dinh Province has recorded strong winds and rough seas since 9 p.m. Sunday. Meanwhile, downpours have also lashed the port city of Hai Phong and Quang Ninh Province, home to the world-renowned Ha Long Bay.

The typhoon-hit provinces have also reported large-scale power outages.

Bui Minh Tang, director of the Vietnam's National Center for Hydro Meteorological Forecasting, said Sunday afternoon that Haiyan, the 14th storm to enter the East Sea this year, would make landfall between 10 p.m. and early Monday morning.

He said the storm is likely to make landfall in the provinces of Quang Ninh and Thai Binh as well as Hai Phong City, and experts think the latter two locations will be the hardest hit with winds of up to 102 kilometers per hour (kph).

A report put out by the center at 5:30 p.m. said Haiyan was centered at about 270-330 kms southeast off coast of the localities from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa and the northern province of Quang Ninh at 5 p.m. Sunday.

An illustration of typhoon Haiyan's progress in 5:30 p.m. report. Photo courtesy of National Center for Hydro Meteorological Forecasting

Its maximum sustained winds were between 118 and 149 kph with gusts of up to 183 kph near the storm's eye.

The center expects the storm will move northwest in the next 12 hours at a speed of about 30 kph.

It will have its center in the east of northern Vietnam at 4 a.m. Monday, and its maximum sustained winds will reduce to 62-88 kph and gusts to 89-117 kph.

In between 4 a.m-4 p.m., it is likely to go in the direction between north and north-northeast, its speed will slowing down to about 15-20 kph and eventually weakening into a tropical depression.

The depression is forecast to have its center in the south of Guangxi at 4 p.m., with gusts of up to 61 kph, before weakening to a low-pressure area in the Chinese province.

During its progress, Haiyan has brought and will bring strong winds to central and northern parts of central Vietnam, and coastal localities in northern Vietnam.

The regions have been receiving and will continue to receive heavy rains. Thua Thien-Hue's Bach Ma received as much as 297 mm as of 1 p.m. Sunday.

The coastal localities from Ninh Binh to Quang Ninh are likely to see waves up to 6m, the center said.

The storm did not make landfall in the central Vietnam this morning as earlier forecast due to its complicated movement. But this region had taken several actions to protect people's properties and lives.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, more than 629,000 people in 69 districts and towns from Quang Binh to Phu Yen had been evacuated to safe places. Boats were also prohibited from going out to sea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs that same day proposed to China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines that the neighboring countries shelter Vietnamese boats which cannot return home during storm.

It has been reported that five people - three in Quang Nam and two in Quang Ngai - have died and 22 others injured as of this morning, when carrying out precautions against the storm.

Haiyan entered the East Sea Friday evening, after devastating several areas of the Philippines early Friday.

AP quoted regional police chief Elmer Soria as saying that about 10,000 people have been killed in Leyte province, mostly by drowning and being trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

It destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of houses and other structures in the province, he told Reuters.

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