2008-11-17 08:21 PM
A tropical storm heading to Vietnam lost force before striking the country’s central coast on Monday, bringing heavy rains but no deaths or injuries, officials said.
As the storm was approaching, officials called home thousands of fishing boats and began evacuating thousands of people from high-risk areas.
But Tropical Storm Noul quickly lost strength when it made landfall between the south-central provinces of Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan, said disaster official Tran Xuan Hoa of Ninh Thuan. It had been packing winds of 74 kilometers (46 miles) per hour as it churned toward the country’s southern coast.
Nearly 10,000 people who had been evacuated from coastal villages will be able to go home, Hoa said.
“The danger is over,” he said.
Weather forecasters initially predicted that the storm would hit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, and then cut across the vast Mekong River Delta. That region is especially vulnerable to storm damage, with its dense population and makeshift houses.
But later in the day, the storm changed course, forecasters said.
Officials warned that heavy rains could worsen flooding in Ho Chi Minh City, parts of which have been inundated by surging tides over the last week.
Earlier this month, 94 people died in floods that inundated the capital, Hanoi, and other provinces in the country’s northern and central regions.
Vietnam is prone to floods, which kill hundreds each year.