DANANG, Vietnam: Typhoon “Noru” tore roofs from homes and caused power outages across central Vietnam on Wednesday, with hundreds of thousands of people taking refuge after the storm claimed at least 10 lives in the Philippines.
In Danang, Vietnam’s third-largest city, high-rise buildings shook as the typhoon made landfall in the early hours of Wednesday, bringing winds of up to about 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, according to the national forecaster.
More than 300,000 people in Vietnam hunkered down in shelters overnight after forecasters predicted the storm would be one of the biggest to ever hit the Southeast Asian country.
Wind speeds were lower than initially feared, but forecasters said heavy rain would continue into the day and warned of landslides and serious flooding.
The Defense Ministry has mobilized about 40,000 soldiers and 200,000 militia members, equipped with armored vehicles and boats in preparation for rescue and relief operations, state media said.
In the popular tourist city of Hoi An, the Hoai River was close to bursting its banks, while the ground was littered with metal roof sheeting and fallen trees, which had damaged cars and blocked roads.
“The typhoon was terrible last night. I could not sleep as the wind was so strong and loud,” resident Nguyen Thi Hien told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
About 300 houses in the coastal province of Quang Tri had their roofs blown off on Tuesday night as the wind began picking up speed.
Residents rushed to clean up the debris on Wednesday morning, with some shops already open and tourists walking the streets.
Almost half of Vietnam’s airports have been closed since noon on Tuesday, with schools and offices across several central provinces also shut, while Danang banned the public from going out on the streets.
The central section of the highway linking the capital Hanoi in the north with commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City in the south was closed.
The Vietnam impact came after Noru slammed into the Philippines earlier this week as a super typhoon with winds of up to 195 kph, leaving at least 10 dead and eight missing.
Noru was forecast to continue moving inland, passing over Laos before hitting Thailand’s northeastern Ubon Ratchathani province on Thursday and gradually weakening into a tropical depression.
The Thai authorities warned of heavy rain, and possible flash flooding, and said people living in high-risk areas should prepare to evacuate their homes.
Vietnam is frequently lashed by heavy storms in the rainy season between June and November, with the central coastal provinces the worst affected. But scientists have warned that they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.