Tropical storm Wutip lashes Vietnam

The storm, packing 64 mph winds, made landfall on Vietnam's central coast Monday afternoon

Tropical Storm Wutip lashed central Vietnam Monday after sinking at least two Chinese fishing boats, leaving 75 fishermen missing, officials said. The storm, which weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall, also uprooted trees, cut power lines and damaged more than 1,000 houses. 

Vietnam closed schools, ordered all boats ashore and moved some 70,000 people to shelters in vulnerable areas along its central coastline.

Wutip made landfall on Vietnam's central coast Monday afternoon local time packing winds of up to 64 mph per hour and gusts of up to 80 mph, Vietnam's National Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center said.

"We have evacuated thousands of people, prepared vehicles, mobilized 5,000 police and soldiers," Nguyen Duc Cuong, a local communist party official in Quang Tri province, told state-run VTV.

Torrential rain and strong winds battered neighboring Quang Nam province, with the popular tourist town of Hoi An also affected by heavy flooding.

China also deployed navy warships and aircraft to search for survivors in the missing fishing boats. China was hit by Typhoon Usagi last week that blew cars off roads, crippled power lines, caused flooding and left at least 25 people dead.

Vietnam is hit by an average of eight to 10 tropical storms every year, often causing heavy material and human losses, as well as frequent flooding.

In recent weeks floods have killed at least 24 people in Vietnam and claimed 30 lives in Cambodia, as well as 22 in Thailand.

Cambodian police said four people — believed to be Syrians, including two children — died late Sunday when their car was swept away in flood waters.

In China, President Xi Jinping called for an "all-out rescue effort" urging local authorities to "do their utmost to find the missing or stranded and minimize casualties" caused by the typhoon, Beijing's official Xinhua news agency reported. 

Rescue efforts had been hampered by strong gales and high waves, the agency said. 

Wutip was the strongest typhoon to gather off Vietnam this season. The most powerful Asian storm this year was Typhoon Usagi, which caused at least 33 deaths in the Philippines and China earlier in September.

Wire services

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