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September 30, 2009

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32 perish as typhoon hammers Vietnam

A POWERFUL typhoon slammed into central Vietnam yesterday, killing 32 people and flooding towns and villages along the country's long coastline after leaving a trail of destruction in the Philippines.

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Ketsana rose to 246 while the economic cost was nearly US$100 million, officials said. Another storm could hit the country later this week.

Truong Ngoc Nhi, deputy chairman of the People's Committee in Vietnam's Quang Ngai province, said on state-run television the typhoon was the worst in more than three decades.

The official said workers were trying to restore electricity to the Dung Quat oil refinery, which had been due to go back on line today after an outage shut it last month.

Many areas of central Vietnam were inundated, including parts of the port city of Danang, state-run Vietnam Television footage showed. Homes were damaged and phone lines were down.

At least 32 people were killed in seven coastal and central highland provinces, VTV said. Around 170,000 people were evacuated before the typhoon made landfall. Ketsana hit the Philippines at the weekend.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines canceled all fights to Danang and schools in the affected area were closed. The airline said it would resume service today.

The central Vietnam region hit by Ketsana lies far north of the country's Mekong Delta rice basket. Rain dumped on the Central Highlands coffee belt could delay the start of the next coffee harvest by up to 10 days but exports would not be affected, traders said.

Meanwhile, forecasters said a new storm forming in the Pacific Ocean was likely to enter Philippine waters tomorrow and make landfall later on the northern island of Luzon.

Ketsana dumped more than a month's worth of average rainfall on Manila and surrounding areas over 24 hours. About 80 percent of the city of 15 million was flooded.


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