Typhoon Nesat heads to Vietnam

2011-09-30 10:30
Hong Kong - A powerful typhoon that forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes on an island in southern China appeared to have caused little damage on Friday and was sweeping away from the country toward Vietnam.

Typhoon Nesat was expected to make landfall in Vietnam late Friday or early Saturday, after flooding streets on China's Hainan island on Thursday. Hainan authorities had plenty of time to prepare for the storm as it churned across the South China Sea from the Philippines, where it killed at least 43 people and left 30 missing earlier in the week.

Authorities evacuated 300 000 people, cancelled flights, closed schools, suspended ferry services and recalled fishing boats as the storm approached, and the preparations appeared to have paid off with little damage reported on the island.

That was also the case in Hong Kong, which wasn't directly hit by the storm but saw wild weather on Thursday as the system passed offshore.

In the Philippines, more than 160 000 people were still in evacuation centres on Friday, three days after Nesat tore a path across the country's main island and triggered some of the worst flooding in the capital in decades.

Even as the weather improved with some sunshine, more misery hit residents of Bulacan province just north of Manila when three dams released excess water, flooding farmland and sending residents in towns downstream wading through neck-deep waters.

Bulacan Gov Willy Alvarado said he called dam administrators to temporarily stop the release of water, which he said unleashed flooding on "unprecedented" levels.

Army and police rescuers distributed food and other relief goods to those stranded on rooftops in Calumpit and Hagonoy townships in Bulacan.

Preparations were also under way as a new typhoon headed toward the northern Philippines. It was expected to hit over the weekend.

Overall, damage from Typhoon Nesat was estimated at $91m in the Philippines. No estimates have been given yet for damage to Hainan.

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