By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen and Aaron Sheldrick
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — Vietnam started evacuating coastal areas and ordered local authorities to prepare for Tropical Storm Mekkhala, which strengthened from a depression overnight and is forecast to make landfall today.
Mekkhala was expected to cross the coast near the city of Dong Hoi after 10 a.m. Vietnam time, the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said on its Web site.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai sent an urgent directive to ministries, provincial authorities and national rescue and relief teams to prepare for the storm. Evacuations were ordered in low-lying coastal areas.
The country’s weather office forecast heavy rains and warned of flooding and landslides, the government said.
Mekkhala’s maximum sustained winds were at 102 kilometers (64 miles) per hour, with gusts to 130 kph, at 7 a.m. when it was located about 58 kilometers east of Dong Hoi. Mekkhala was moving west-northwest at 24 kph.
Mekkhala is the 20th storm of the northwest Pacific cyclone season and means the angel of thunder in Thai, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which lists cyclone names in use in the Pacific.
At least 41 people were killed and five were missing in Vietnam after the remnants of Typhoon Hagupit crossed into the country from China on Sept. 25, Vietnam’s National Committee for Flood and Storm Control said yesterday.
Hagupit damaged or destroyed almost 11,700 houses and spoiled 19,500 hectares (48,185 acres) of rice and other crops, according to the committee.