Vietnam evacuated tens of thousands of people from high-risk coastal areas yesterday as a powerful typhoon that left dozens of fishermen missing in the South China Sea slammed into the country.
China deployed navy warships and aircraft to search for survivors after three Chinese fishing boats sank in rough waters whipped up by Typhoon Wutip.
More than 70 people were missing, Xinhua news agency reported, citing maritime authorities.
Vietnam closed schools, ordered all boats ashore and moved about 70,000 people to shelters in vulnerable areas along its central coastline, as high winds and heavy rains uprooted trees and tore the roofs off houses.
Wutip made landfall on Vietnam’s central coast soon after 5pm, packing winds of up to 103kph and gusts of up to 133kph, Vietnam’s National Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center said.
Authorities scrambled to move people from areas at risk of landslides and flash floods, as soldiers joined efforts to build walls of sandbags around coastal villages.
In recent weeks, floods have killed at least 24 people in Vietnam and claimed 30 lives in Cambodia, as well as 22 in Thailand.
Cambodian police said four people — believed to be Syrians, including two children — died late on Sunday when their car was swept away in floodwaters.
In Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) called for an “all-out rescue effort” urging local authorities to “do their utmost to find the missing or stranded and minimize casualties” caused by the typhoon, Xinhua said.
Rescue efforts had been hampered by strong gales and high waves, it said. The Chinese boats, which were together carrying 88 fishermen, sank after they attempted to navigate gales near the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), about 330km from China’s southern coast.
China’s maritime authority on Sunday raised its alert on the typhoon to orange, its second-highest of four levels, Xinhua reported.
Storm tides might strike the provinces of Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi, it added, citing the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center.