/ 3 November 2005

Typhoon Kai Tak batters Vietnam

Eighteen people, including three children, are confirmed dead and two are missing after Typhoon Kai Tak battered central Vietnam, officials said on Thursday.

”Two people remain missing and we are pursuing the search for them today,” said Nguyen Van Hung, from the flood and storm committee in the central city of Danang, revising the number of missing from his earlier figure of 10.

”The typhoon weakened into a tropical depression after battering the central coastal regions,” Hung said. ”But heavy rains are persisting in the [northern] Red River region.”

The storm has so far caused material damage of about $11-million, he said.

A Filipino expert who was working at the Bong Mieu gold mine in Quang Nam province was killed in the flooding, Hung said. A spokesperson for the Philippine embassy said diplomats were trying to get details.

Scores of fishing boats may have sunk, official reports said.

In an accident unrelated to the typhoon, a ferry capsized on Wednesday on a river in Quang Nam province, leaving five people dead and four missing.

”It was an accident and has no link with the extreme weather, so we are not adding the casualties from it to the toll from the typhoon,” Hung said.

Hung said crops on 12 800ha of farmland have been destroyed and traffic was disrupted in the region.

Airports in Danang and Hue were closed on Tuesday, but have since reopened.

A section of the north-south railway was submerged, prompting authorities to cancel all train services through central Vietnam.

Sections of a national highway were also sealed off.

Seaside resorts and tourist areas in the region, including those at Danang and Hoi An, were closed.

More than 9 000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged and several thousand people were displaced, Hung said.

The region is prone to seasonal flooding and frequent typhoons that often cause widespread destruction and loss of life.

Thirty-one people were killed last month by floods in the region.

In September, Typhoon Damrey, packing winds of 200kph, left at least 111 people dead during its sweep through East Asia — 63 in Vietnam, 25 in China, 16 in the Philippines and seven in Thailand. — Sapa-AFP