Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on March 29 ordered coastal areas from the central city of Da Nang to the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang to remain vigilant ahead of an "abnormal" storm, the first to appear before April in 40 years.

Storm Pakhar, the first to hit the East Sea this year, developed itself from a tropical pressure system, said the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.

At 1pm March 30, the eye of the storm was about 320km southeast of southern-central coastal provinces from Ninh Thuan to Binh Thuan, with winds gusting up to 74kph at its centre.

The storm is forecast to move west-northwest over the next 24-48 hours at 3-5kmh.

Hai also said that priority should be given to accounting for all fishing vessels, and instructing them to remain at anchor.

Authorities were told to prepare to evacuate people from high-risk areas.

Hai also noted that a cold spell forecast to hit northern and central provinces from March 30 night might complicate the situation

Border guards have instructed eight offshore vessels from the central province of Khanh Hoa to shelter in Malaysia until the storm passes.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control sent an urgent message to local authorities and the ministries of National Defence, Transport, and Foreign Affairs.

In the message, the committee asked local agencies to keep fishermen and ship owners informed of the storm's position and development.-VNA