Vietnam metro takes measures against coming storm

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Ho Chi Minh City authorities have taken precautions to protect citizens from a storm forecast to hit the southern and south-central regions tonight.

According to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, a tropical depression entered the East Sea, internationally known as South China Sea, Tuesday afternoon and is moving fast towards land.

Le Thanh Hai, the center's deputy director, told Thanh Nien at 3 p.m. that the tropical depression was at that time over the sea between Khanh Hoa and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces, 150 kilometers from the shore.

It was moving at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour and was expected to reach land this evening, at which point it would have a 50 percent of chance of developing into a full-fledged storm .

He said the tropical depression would bring heavy rain to the affected region.

At around 4:15 p.m., heavy rain and lightening came struck Can Gio District.

More than 2,100 households in Can Gio were evacuated to safe ground as of this afternoon, and boats have been docked safely, according to a report from the Committee for Flood and Storm Control, Search and Rescue in Can Gio.

Many workers who lives in Can Gio and work at factories in District 7 had gone home to prepare for the evacuation by early afternoon.

Nguyen Van Thuan, who works at a garment factory in District 7, said his boss allowed workers to go home early today.

"This morning we went to work with worry as the notice about the storm continued changing, but I'm quite relieved that I can go home before the storm comes," Thuan said.

City authorities have also sent personnel to instruct people to dock boats and protect their houses and construction sights, said Le Thanh Liem, deputy chairman of the city people's committee.

He said authorities were prohibiting people from staying on their boats tonight and were evacuating people in coastal and estuarine areas. He also said trees were being pruned and cut.

The Committee for Flood and Storm Control and Search and Rescue in HCMC has asked fishermen and citizens -- especially those living in Can Gio and other riparian and low-lying areas such as Binh Thanh, Nha Be and Thu Duc Districts and District 2, 7, 12 -- to obey evacuation instructions.

People have also been instructed not to use or stay in their boats or tents near the water. They must also not stay in temporarily built houses, according to the center.

It also ordered people to stay inside to avoid accidents caused by falling trees, electric poles or billboards. People were also asked not to travel to Can Gio.

The city's Department of Education and Training this afternoon ordered all schools, including foreign language and IT training centers, to cease all classes and prevent students from going to school after 4 p.m.

Many other localities in the affected region, including Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Tien Giang, also have also undergone similar precautions.

Many boat trips and flights to and from the affected areas have also been canceled. Vietnam Airlines has temporarily postponed 14 flights to and from Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa after the aviation authority in central Vietnam announced that no flights would be allowed at the airport from 11 a.m. today to 6 a.m. Thursday due to bad weather.

Meteorologists also forecast that another storm named Haiyan, which has developed in the Pacific Ocean, is likely to enter the East Sea Friday evening.

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