Top priority must be given to rescuing residents isolated by heavy rains and flooding, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai while chairing a teleconference with storm-hit central localities on September 29.

According to the Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention and Control, Ketsana, the ninth tropical storm to hit Vietnam this season, slammed into central provinces at September 29’s noontime with torrential rains and strong winds, leaving 31 people dead and missing by 18:00 on the same day.

Of them, 15 are in Central Highlands Kon Tum province, five in Binh Dinh province, four in Da Nang city and three in Quang Nam province. Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Ngai provinces each reported two deaths.

More than 85,000 houses were collapsed, submerged or unroofed while tens of thousands of hectares of trees and vegetables were damaged.

The storm has now weakened into a tropical low pressure when entering southern Laos .

However, at present, flooding on central rivers is rising quickly, with that on Tra Bong River exceeding the 1964 historical level by 0.17m. Floods on rivers from Hue to Quang Nam are higher or close to the warning level 3.

On the evening of Sept. 29, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued an urgent dispatch requesting ministries, agencies and localities to actively mobilise all resources and take prompt measures to overcome the consequences of the storm.

The dispatch also asked for immediate actions to bring the people’s life to normal, to deal with rains and floods and to avoid fatalities due to lacks of responsibility.

On Sept. 30, the National Committee of Search and Rescue sent two rescue teams to Kon Tum and Quang Ngai provinces./.