Typhoon Ketsana Kills 38 in Vietnam; Flood Threat

September 30, 2009

The biggest floods in decades threatened Vietnam’s central provinces on Wednesday following a powerful typhoon that swept into the country after wreaking havoc in the Philippines.

The government said 38 people had died and 10 were missing in floods and landslides in eight coastal and central highland provinces. River waters in Quang Nam province could reach a level last seen in 1964 by Wednesday evening, weather reports said.

“From the air, one can see many areas around Danang being isolated by floods,” a Reuters witness said. “Sea waves pounded the road along Danang’s beach and threw several ships onshore.”

Typhoon Ketsana slammed into Vietnam late on Tuesday dumping torrential rain across central Vietnam that left 294,000 homes destroyed, damaged or submerged by floods. Around 357,000 people in 10 provinces were evacuated.

The region hit by Ketsana lies far north of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta rice basket. Rain dumped on the Central Highlands coffee belt could delay the start of the next coffee harvest by up to 10 days, but exports would not be affected, traders said.

Ketsana had weakened to a tropical storm after moving into Laos and Cambodia on Tuesday night, weather forecasters said.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai urged authorities to quickly resume power supplies to the typhoon-hit region, including Quang Ngai province where Vietnam’s first oil refinery, Dung Quat, was due to reopen on Wednesday after an outage shut the plant’s test runs last month.

The 140,000-bpd Dung Quat plant will resume operations later on Wednesday as scheduled after repairs, with typhoon Ketsana doing no damage to the facility, a Petrovietnam official said.

Ketsana hit the Philippines at the weekend, killing 246 people, leaving another 42 missing, and causing damages totaling more than $100 million, officials said.

The Asian Development Bank pledged $3 million for emergency relief efforts, and other countries including Japan, Australia, Spain and Malaysia have also pledged aid.

“There are still thousands of families rendered homeless by the floods, and ADB will do whatever it can to support the government’s efforts to provide them with the essential care they need,” ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in a statement.

Philippine lawmakers were set to pass a supplemental budget for 2009 of about 10 billion pesos ($211 million) for relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts, Defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro said.

A new storm forming in the Pacific Ocean was likely to enter Philippine waters on Thursday and make landfall later on the northern island of Luzon, forecasters said.

Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of average rainfall on Manila and surrounding areas, forcing 375,000 out of their homes and destroying more than 180,000 tons of paddy rice.

(Additional reporting by Rosemarie Francisco in MANILA; Writing by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

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