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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     October 19  2016  

Sarika, most dangerous storm in years

Storm Sarika is expected to enter the Tonkin Gulf and head toward Viet Nam’s coastal provinces from Quang Ninh to Nam Định tomorrow with winds up to 165km per hour, according to the National Forecast Hydrometeorological Forecast Centre.

The director of the centre, Hoang Duc Cuong, said Sarika was forecast to be the most dangerous and strongest storms to hit Viet Nam in recent years.

This is the seventh storm to hit the East Sea this year.

The storm was located 140km north of Hoàng Sa Archipelago at 10pm yesterday, with wind speed at the eye of the storm reaching 165km per hour.

It was moving westwards at a speed of 15-20km per hour.

The storm was predicted to hit offshore northeastern localities of Viet Nam at 4pm tomorrow, according to the centre.

The centre warned that the storm would bring heavy rain of 200-300mm for northeastern and northern central localities. The rains could bring floods to these localities and mountainous areas are warned of flash floods and landslides.

Wind speed in the storm’s eye could reach from 135 to 150km per hour with stronger gales from 184 to 201km per hour, according to the forecast centre.

All administrations and agencies have been placed on alert.

The National Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and the National Steering Committee for Search and Rescue Operations held a teleconference with authorities of 22 localities from Hải Phong to Quảng Bình on Sunday to discuss measures to cope with the storm.

Local authorities were asked to keep a close watch on the storm, and warn owners of ships operating offshore, advising them to move to seek safe harbor.

They were also required to check the safety of reservoirs, particularly those that are already full, review the situation of aquaculture farms and prepare to evacuate at short notice people residing in flood- and landslide-prone areas.

Over 36,000 fishing boats carrying 164,000 fishermen in the central provinces - from Quang Tri to Khánh Hoa - were told the day before yesterday to seek safe harbor as the storm is making its way to Viet Nam.

The Centre of Flood and Storm Prevention in the Central and Central Highlands regions said 31,000 fishing boats and 125,000 labourers had already arrived at ports or docked safely as of the day before yesterday morning.

Around 470 boats and 6,700 fishermen were en route home or to safe shelters in Việt Nam’s sea of Trường Sa (Spratly) and Hoàng Sa (Paracel).

Prolonged rains and floods have already hit the northern central region hard, and reservoirs are already full.

Heavy rains and floods in the central region, including the provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, have claimed 25 lives and injured 18 others. Four others have been reported missing, according to the latest report from the National Steering Committee for Storm and Flood Prevention and Control.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Sunday sent an urgent message, asking relevant ministries, agencies and local authorities of provinces from Nghe An to Thừa Thiên-Huế to promptly take measures to help those affected resume their normal lives.

They were required to mobilise all available forces, including soldiers and police, to continue searching for the missing, visit flood victims’ families, provide essential food and clothing, clean the surrounding environment and take measures to prevent outbreaks of flood-borne diseases.

The Prime Minister has also called on people to give donations to affected families in these provinces.

According to the latest reports, some reservoirs in the south central provinces are filled to capacity after heavy rains in recent days. The Thạch Bàn reservoir in Quảng Nam, for example, is at 105 per cent capacity, while the others in Bình Định, Khánh Hòa and Nình Thuận have reached between 88 and 92 per cent of their designed capacity.

Reservoirs in the Central Highlands region, including Ayun Ha, Ea Soup Thượng and Krông Buk Hạ are 92 to 97 per cent full. The centre said water levels at rivers in the Central Highlands would slowly rise due to the water discharged from reservoirs in the region within 24 hours.

Another storm, internally named Haima, has been forming off the Philippines and is predicted to enter the East Sea in the next few days. — VNS

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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