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Vietnam evacuates 600,000 in fear of Haiyan devastation

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As super-typhoon Haiyan has left some 10,000 dead in the Philippines, over 600,000 people have been evacuated as it approaches Vietnam. “Those who do not move voluntarily will be forced” to move, Vietnam’s flood and storm control department said.

Vietnam is preparing its defenses after the storm annihilated the Philippines over the weekend, leaving thousands dead and a trail of devastation through Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province.

Haiyan destroyed 70 percent to 80 percent of the area as it ripped through the province Friday, police chief superintendent Elmer Soria told Reuters. Aid workers are only now beginning to gain access to affected areas.

The appropriate measures are being taken in Vietnam before the typhoon strikes. “We have evacuated more than 174,000 households, which is equivalent to more than 600,000 people,” the storm department said Sunday.

Mass evacuations are taking place in the central Da Nang and Quang Ngai provinces. Numerous schools have closed nationwide as people move to higher ground, and some shelters are “overloaded,” according to state-run VNExpress.

“People must bring enough food and necessities for three days,” the report said. All boats have been grounded, with tens of thousands of those directed to take shelter situated in coastal areas. Residents of Hanoi are also preparing themselves for heavy rain and floods. The storm has already been blamed for the drowning of a school girl in the central Thua Thien Hue Province.

The announcement follows new reports that the storm is changing its course. It is now anticipated to pummel the country on Monday at 7am, after moving in a north-to-northwesterly direction at a speed of around 35 kilometers an hour, according to the Vietnamese weather bureau. Upon landfall, it will have gathered winds of around 74 kilometers an hour.

The Red Cross stated that the change of direction meant that the disaster area “could be enlarged from nine provinces to as many as 15,” according to a statement released to AFP.

However, some 200,000 people evacuated from the southern central provinces have been permitted to return to their homes as they are no longer at risk, according to a governmental report published on their website.

By Sunday afternoon, the typhoon had already battered Vietnam’s Con Co Island, where its 250 inhabitants were relocated to underground shelters containing food supplies for several days. The storm brought with it three-meter high waves, according to Vietnamese newspaper, Tuoi Tre.

Haiyan is one of the world’s most powerful-ever storms, based on its recorded wind speed, which at landfall was 195 miles per hour, with gusts as much as 235 miles per hour. It is thought to have been even stronger than Hurricane Camille, which caused devastation in the US in 1969.


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