Vietnam braces for typhoon as Philippine toll rises to 230 dead

Mi Nguyen, Manuel Mogato Reuters 25 Dec 17;

HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a typhoon approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.

Typhoon Tembin is expected to slam into Vietnam late on Monday after bringing misery to the predominantly Christian Philippines just before Christmas.

Vietnam’s disaster prevention committee said 74,000 people had been moved to safety from vulnerable areas, while authorities in 15 provinces and cities were prepared to move more than 1 million.

The government ordered that oil rigs and vessels be protected and it warned that about 62,000 fishing boats should not venture out to sea.

“Vietnam must ensure the safety of its oil rigs and vessels. If necessary, close the oil rigs and evacuate workers,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying on a government website.

Schools were ordered to close in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, a working day in Vietnam.

On Sunday, Tembin hit the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, parts of which are contested by several countries, including Vietnam and China.

No casualties were reported in outposts there.

Vietnam, like the Philippines, is regularly battered by typhoons that form over the warm waters of the Pacific and barrel westwards into land.

Tembin will be the 16th major storm to hit Vietnam this year. The storms and other disasters have left 390 people dead or missing, according to official figures.

SCORES MISSING

In the Philippines, rescue workers were still struggling to reach some remote areas hit by floods and landslides that Tembin’s downpours brought, as the death toll climbed to more than 230. Scores of people are missing.

The full extent of the devastation was only becoming clear as the most remote areas were being reached.

Health worker Arturo Simbajon said nearly the entire coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao island had been wiped out by a barrage of broken logs, boulders and mud that swept down a river and out to sea.

“Only the mosque was left standing,” Simbajon said.

“People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them.”

Manuel Luis Ochotorena, head of regional disaster agency, said he expected the death toll to rise.

“Many areas in Zamboanga peninsula are still without power and communications, some towns are cut off due to collapsed bridges, floods and landslides,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people on Mindanao have been displaced by the storm, which struck late on Friday.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.

But disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to get out coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.

In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 8,000 people and left 200,000 families homeless in the central Philippines.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix spelling in paragraph two)

Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Robert Birsel



Sabah spared wrath of Tropical Storm Tembin
muguntan vanar and farhaan shah The Star 25 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has been spared the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Tembin that left a trail of death and destruction in the southern Philippines.

Strong winds and wet weather lashed coastal areas of Sabah as the tropical storm was upgraded to a typhoon passed northern Sabah and headed towards Vietnam yesterday.

Meteorologists said the it was moving rapidly in a north-westerly direction across the South China Sea and was about 300km from Kota Kinabalu.

The tail effects of the storm would diminish by Christmas Day, he said.

No serious incidents were reported to emergency services in the state after strong winds and light and heavy rains were felt over the last two days.

Persistent rainfall triggered flooding in Kota Belud where 12 villages were affected. No evacuations were reported.

The Civil Defence Department is monitoring three rivers – Keda­maian, Tempasuk and Abai – and would act when necessary.

The Tempasuk and Abai rivers were at critical levels while Kada­maian was normal, the department’s spokesman said.

At least 200 people were reported dead and some 144 others missing in southern Philippines after the typhoon triggered landslides and flooding on Saturday.

In Johor Baru, the marine community, especially fishermen, has been advised to be prepared for bad weather and choppy seas during the current monsoon season.

Southern Region Two comman­der Asst Comm Paul Khiu Khon Chiang said monsoon season is a dangerous period for any activity at sea.

“When the weather turns for the worse, please do not go out to sea. Those who are already there must immediately return to shore.

“Always be alert about weather warnings by the authorities because this is the time of year where conditions can be at their worst,” he said yesterday.

ACP Khiu said no matter how experienced a person might be, the sea was a dangerous place and should not be taken lightly.

He also urged boat owners to inspect their vessels before going out to sea.

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