Mon, Jul 19, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Conson leaves 68 dead in Philippines, hits Vietnam

AFP , HANOI

Three people were missing in Vietnam as tropical storm Conson hit the country, officials said yesterday, after leaving 68 dead in the Philippines when it roared in as a typhoon.

A woman went missing in the north of Vietnam and two fishermen disappeared in waters off the impoverished central provinces, an official in Hanoi from the national committee to fight storms and flooding told reporters.

Conson swept onto the shores of Vietnam late on Saturday and was downgraded to a tropical depression, the official said.

“It continues to cause rainfall in parts of northern and central regions. We have not yet been able to calculate the amount of damage,” he said, but added the storm “has destroyed basic infrastructure, especially water works.”

Thousands of Vietnamese soldiers have been mobilized to help people living in areas affected by Conson and about 30,000 people were evacuated before the storm blew in.

Conson slammed into the Philippines on Tuesday last week, directly hitting the capital Manila as it cut westward into the South China Sea with a ferocity that caught weather forecasters by surprise.

Rescuers retrieved three more bodies from the sea yesterday, raising the death toll to 68 in the Philippines, but more bad weather was hampering search operations.

“Three more bodies were ­recovered from a sunken fishing vessel,” Benito Ramos, chief of the Office of Civil Defense in Manila, said on DZBB radio. “The death toll is now 68.”

He said rescuers, including volunteers and troops, continued to scour coastal areas in the country’s southeastern seaboard yesterday, where the majority of the 84 still missing were reported.

However, he said fresh rains brought on by a new weather disturbance east of the main island of Luzon were hampering search and rescue operations.

State weather forecasters said the rains were unlikely to develop into a full-blown storm.

The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific. Up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people.

After slamming into the Philippines, Typhoon Conson, the first of the season, brushed past the southern Chinese island of Hainan and barreled its way into Vietnam on Saturday.

It killed at least two people, tore down trees and ripped up electricity pylons when it hit Hainan on Friday evening, local officials said. Authorities on the popular tourist island evacuated about 40,000 people from the most vulnerable areas before the storm headed inland.

Two men, a security guard and a motorcyclist, died after being struck by advertising hoardings unhinged by strong winds, an official from the local typhoon warning center said.

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