November 2, 2005

Typhoon Kai-Tak batters Vietnam coast, 15 die

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI (Reuters) - At least 15 people died and a Filipino
was missing in central Vietnam as a typhoon nearing the coast
dumped heavy rains and triggered floods in a region where bad
weather has killed nearly 30 people in the past two weeks.

The national weather center said on Wednesday that 29
inches of rain drenched Quang Ngai province, where six people
died, even though Typhoon Kai-Tak, named after Hong Kong's old
airport, had weakened as it neared the coast.

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

High waves sank a ferry on a river near the Quang Nam
provincial town of Tam Ky on Wednesday, killing five people,
but police and soldiers managed to save 16, a local policeman

"We don't know how many people were on the boat because its
owner ran away after the accident," he said.

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.

The mine is owned by Canada's Olympus Pacific Minerals Inc.

Four people drowned in Thua Thien-Hue province, where
flooding of up to 2.3 feet 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 the rain 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 46 mph as
Kai-Tak moved northwest, nearing the coast of Nghe An and Ha
Tinh provinces on Wednesday, a weather bulletin said.

Sections of railway line and the north-south Highway One
were blocked by floods and the government urged authorities in
four central provinces to stay on alert for flash floods and

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai has ordered the release of 450
tons of rice from national food reserves to help people in the
central region, where 67,000 people were evacuated when 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.

The typhoon also skipped oilfields in Vietnam, Southeast
Asia's third-largest oil producer, all of which are in southern

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.