November 2, 2005

Ten die as Typhoon Kai-Tak batters Vietnam coast

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI (Reuters) - At least 10 people drowned and a Filipino
was missing in central Vietnam as a typhoon nearing the coast
dumped heavy rains on a region where bad weather has killed
nearly 30 people in the past two weeks.

The National Hydro Meteorology Forecast Center said on
Wednesday 740 mm (29 in) of rain drenched Quang Ngai province,
where six people died, even though Typhoon Kai-Tak, named after
Hong Kong's old airport, weakened as it neared the coast.

Heavy rains knocked down hundreds of trees, causing
blackouts and blocking roads in Danang, 760 km (470 miles)
south of Hanoi, prompting Chinese President Hu Jintao to cancel
a trip to the area during an official visit to Vietnam.

Three Vietnamese and a 49-year-old Filipino were swept away
on Tuesday at the Bong Mieu Gold Property mine in Quang Nam
province, but the three Vietnamese were rescued, a company
official said.

"We are still searching for the missing man," she told
Reuters. The mine is owned by Canada's Olympus Pacific Minerals

Four people drowned in Thua Thien-Hue province, where
flooding of up to 0.7 m (2.3 ft) swamped Hue, including the old
citadel, a U.N.-listed World Heritage Site, state-run Vietnam
Television reported.

"The rains were terribly heavy yesterday and people had to
use boats inside the citadel area," said a Hue resident who
added that rains had stopped but floods had not receded.

However, floods did not hit the ancient town of Hoi An,
another U.N.-listed World Heritage site just to the south,
another resident said.

Winds at the center of the storm weakened to 74 kph (46
mph) as Kai-Tak moved northwest, nearing the coast of Ha Tinh
and Quang Binh provinces on Wednesday, a weather bulletin said.

Sections of railway line and the north-south Highway One
were blocked by floods.

The government's committee on floods and storm prevention
urged authorities in four central provinces to stay on alert
for flash floods and landslides.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai has ordered the release of 450
tonnes of rice from national food reserves to help people in
the central region, where 67,000 people were evacuated as 29
people died in floods in late October.

Typhoon Kai-Tak did not affect Vietnam's key coffee and
rice growing regions, which lie further to the south. Vietnam
is the world's second-largest coffee producer after Brazil and
number two in rice exports after Thailand.

With a long coastline facing the South China Sea, Vietnam
suffers around 10 typhoons or tropical storms each year.

Last month, Typhoon Damrey killed 120 people as it left a
trail of destruction stretching from the Philippines to China,
Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.