The northern port city of Hai Phong has urged ship owners to promptly return to land as soon as possible as Storm Utor is approaching, causing rough seas in the northern region of the East Sea.

However, more than 1,100 vessels were still operating at sea by 7am on August 13, while an estimated 1,800 ships had landed safely.

The city’s steering board for flood and storm control and search and rescue has asked local authorities and sectors to keep a close watch on the developments of the storm, which is reported to be very strong, moving fast and unpredictably.

They are urged to make every effort to inform ship owners at sea of the storm's progress, as well as inspect important dyke systems and take preventative measures.

Storm Utor, the seventh hitting the East Sea this year, was seen 450km to the east-northeast of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago by 4am of August 13, with winds of up to 149km per hour.

In the next 24 hours, it is forecast to move between west and northwest at a speed of 15-20km per hour, gaining strength on its way.-VNA