Typhoon Damrey kills 19 in Vietnam

Workers repair a fallen electricity pole in the central province of Phu Yen, Vietnam on Saturday after Typhoon Damrey slammed the country‘s south-central coast. (AP Photo)

HANOI: Typhoon Damrey killed at least 19 people in central and southern Vietnam on Saturday after sweeping into the country just days ahead of the Apec summit.

The storm reached land at 4am local time on Friday with winds gusting at up to 90 kilometres per hour. The wind tore off more than 1,000 roofs, knocked down hundreds of electricity poles and uprooted trees, the government Facebook page said.

At least 12 people were missing and more than 370 houses had collapsed, the government‘s search and rescue committee said. More than 33,000 people had been evacuated.

The government earlier said six ships had capsized with 61 people on board in the South China Sea and that 25 people had been rescued, but gave no details as to the possible fate of the others.

Damrey is expected to weaken as it crosses Cambodia but weather warnings for southern Thailand remain in effect.

The storm made landfall near Nha Trang, which is around 500km south of the coastal city of Danang, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit is taking place this coming week.

There were reports of high winds and rain in Danang, but no immediate reports of casualties. The city will host US President Donald Trump from Nov 10 as well as China‘s Xi Jinping, Russia‘s Vladimir Putin and counterparts from other Apec members including Thailand.

The storm moved from the coastal area into a key coffee growing area of the world‘s biggest producer of robusta coffee beans. Traders had expected the storm to delay harvesting, but were not sure whether it would damage the crop.

The government said thousands of hectares of sugarcane, rice fields and rubber plantations had been damaged. More than 40 flights were cancelled.

Floods killed more than 80 people in northern Vietnam last month while a typhoon wreaked havoc in central provinces in September.

The said on Saturday afternoon that Damrey was moving west at speeds of 30 kilometres per hour. It is expected to weaken to a tropical storm and then tropical depression as it crosses Cambodia. Cambodia.

However, more torrential downpours are still possible in some areas of lower southern Thailand as a result of low pressure, and residents should beware of possible flash floods and strong winds, forecasters said. The affected areas are Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

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