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Super typhoon Mangkhut has Vietnam in its sights

Mangkhut is expected to head towards the South China Sea on Saturday afternoon.
Mangkhut is expected to head towards the South China Sea on Saturday afternoon.

The mega storm bearing down on the Philippines could also hit Vietnam en route to the East Sea.
Vietnam has been put on red alert for the super typhoon Mangkhut, which experts say could hit the country early next week.

As of Friday morning, super typhoon Mangkhut was looming large over the Philippines, just 680 kilometers to the southeast of Luzon Island, with maximum wind speeds of 200 kilometers per hour, according to Filipino weather reports.

Over the next 24 hours, Mangkhut is expected to head northwest at 20 kilometers per hour and head towards the South China Sea (known in Vietnam as the East Sea) on Saturday afternoon with maximum wind speeds of 194 kilometers per hour, according to a Hong Kong weather station.

International meteorologists have said that with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 255 kilometers per hour, Mangkhut is the strongest storm of the year to bear down on the Philippines.

Le Thanh Hai, deputy head of the National Center for Hydrometeorological Forecasting (NCHMF), said both Vietnamese and international weather stations predict that there’s a very high chance it will directly affect the northern and northern central regions, making landfalls in Vietnam on Monday morning, September 17.

The northern region and coastal northern central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An could be hardest hit by the ferocious storm while the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Tri will also be affected, meteorologists said.

They have also predicted rising tides and sea level rising by four to six meters following heavy downpours.

Storm preparations

Authorities in Vietnam’s northern and central provinces, from Quang Ninh to Nghe An, are taking measures to limit the possible damage by ordering vessels to move out of the path of the storm, and rescue forces have been put on standby.

Nguyen Van Huong, an official with the NCHMF, said downpours should be expected on September 17 and 18, with rainfall of up to 400 millimeters as the storm hits the country on Monday morning after lashing the Gulf of Tonkin.

Hanoi could also be affected by the storm and all vehicles should be banned from moving on long bridges like Vinh Tuy and Nhat Tan to ensure safety in case of strong winds triggered by the storm, he recommended.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on Friday held an emergency meeting with local authorities to take urgent action to prevent loss of life and damage to property.

Weather forecasters in Vietnam have predicted that four to six typhoons and tropical depressions could develop off the country’s east coast from now until the end of the year. Around two to three storms will make landfall in Vietnam and batter the central region, they said.

Vietnam was struck by a record-breaking number of 16 tropical storms last year that left 389 people dead or missing and injured 668 others, mostly in northern and central regions.

Damrey, one of the most destructive storms last year, hit the country in November and killed at least 106 people.